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Press Release

Philadelphia Man Who Attempted to Rob the Trolley Car Diner at Gunpoint Sentenced to 19 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Keenan Smith, 29, of Philadelphia, PA was sentenced to nineteen years in prison and five years of supervised release by United States District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno for attempting to rob the Trolley Car Diner on Germantown Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia.

The defendant was convicted after trial in August 2019 of attempted robbery which interferes with interstate commerce (Hobbs Act robbery), and using or carrying, and discharging, a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. In the early morning hours of January 31, 2018, Smith snuck into the Trolley Car Diner through a side entrance before it opened for business that day, and waited outside the manager’s office with a gun. When the manager arrived, Smith pointed the gun at the manager’s head, and then a struggle ensued as the manager attempted to disarm the defendant. Ultimately, the defendant was shot in the hand, causing him to flee, but he was later arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department after seeking medical treatment for his gunshot wound at a hospital in Roxborough. Evidence presented at trial showed that Smith’s DNA was found to match DNA from blood left at the scene of the crime.

“Nobody should be put in a positon of fearing for their life when simply showing up to do their job,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “My Office is committed to prosecuting and punishing this type of inexcusable violence, which is all too prevalent in Philadelphia. Federal crime means federal time: here, 19 years. Keenan Smith deserves every bit of that sentence.”

“Imagine the terror of walking into a gunpoint ambush, alone with an armed stranger making demands,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “In attempting this armed robbery, Keenan Smith made clear that he’s a threat to public safety. Although Smith was the one injured during the robbery, it could have easily been his intended victim or an innocent bystander harmed. The FBI and our partners at the Philadelphia Police Department are committed to taking violent criminals off the street, to keep them from victimizing anyone else.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department, with assistance from the Whitemarsh Township Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy M. Stengel.


615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Updated October 13, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime