Man Who Firebombed A Church Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison


On Monday, an Alliance man was sentenced to eighteen years in jail for tossing Molotov cocktails onto a Chesterland church because it was going to conduct drag events.

20-year-old Alliance resident Aimenn D. Penny entered a guilty plea in October to breaking the Church Arson Prevention Act when he attacked the Community Church of Chesterland on March 25, 2023.

During the hearing in federal court in Cleveland, Aimenn Penny remained silent the entire time, even when Community Church of Chesterland members and leaders discussed the trauma the March incident caused and the overwhelming support they got after the attack.

Authorities stated at the time that he intended to “burn it to the ground” because he was “angered” by the church’s intentions to host two drag show events.

According to his criminal affidavit, he acknowledged the attack during an interview with FBI investigators, claiming that he was attempting to disrupt the drag show event and protect minors.

He will serve three years in prison and then be released under supervision as part of his sentence.

According to a statement from Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen from the National Security Division of the Justice Department, Mr. Penny was held accountable for using violence against an Ohio church because he didn’t agree with how members of the congregation decided to express their religious views.

For the incident on March 25, U.S. District Judge Bridget Meehan Brennan jailed Penny to 18 years in federal prison.

She also mandated that he pay the church $10,507 in compensation, receive mental health therapy, and serve three years of supervised probation upon his release.

In October, he was found guilty of charges of obstruction and arson. Rebecca Lutzko, the US attorney, had suggested a 20-year sentence.

Penny was reportedly a part of a group that protested a comparable event in Wadsworth on March 11, 2023, according to court documents.

Penny was recognized by the Wadsworth Police Department as a person who visited the region and disseminated anti-drag queen propaganda fliers from White Lives Matter, Ohio.

The affidavit further stated that Penny was once again identified as a White Lives Matter protestor when she went to the drag queen story hour event.

Penny was decked up in military fatigues, a tactical vest, a gun-pattern jacket, and camouflage pants.

Prosecutor’s Appeal After Church Attack

In court documents, prosecutors requested a maximum punishment of twenty years. In a sentencing memo dated January 22, prosecutors stated that targeting a church goes right to the core of a community due to the significant responsibilities that churches and other houses of worship play in it.

Man Who Firebombed A Church Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison
Before A Drag Show Story Hour At The Community Church Of Chesterland In Chesterland, Ohio, On March 31, 2023, There was Fire Damage On The Church’s Door


Prosecutors further stated that destroying a church was an equally powerful symbol of hate as placing a hanging noose or burning a cross in the grass.

Furthermore, it was claimed that Defendant Aimenn Penny joined this abhorrent history of hatred and targeted the center of the neighborhood, attempting to scare and intimidate those who disagreed with him, by throwing Molotov cocktails at the Community Church of Chesterland.

The prosecutor declared that Penny should have received harsh punishment for using violence to express his hatred for other people because, after his arrest, he had exhibited no signs of regret or remorse for his acts.

According to the affidavit, investigators discovered shattered glass fragments from two bottles: one was a beer bottle and the other had a cloth-like substance.

Near the broken door was a blue plastic spray bottle containing gasoline and a burnt matchstick.

Following a tip, investigators obtained a court order enabling them to obtain location history from Penny’s phone, according to the affidavit.

Authorities discovered a gas mask, gas cans, Nazi memorabilia, and a Nazi flag among other things when they searched his house.

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