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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Friday, May 22, 2020

Florida Man And South Carolina Man Indicted For String Of Interstate ATM Arsons

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an eight-count indictment charging Mawdo Malick Sallah (33, Clearwater, FL) and Kirk Douglas Johnson (34, Anderson, SC) with one count of conspiring to commit arson, three counts of arson, two counts of using a fire or explosive to commit a federal felony, and two counts of bank larceny. If convicted on all counts, Sallah and Johnson each face a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. The indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States intends to forfeit any funds traceable to proceeds of the offenses.

According to court documents, between November 2019 and March 2020, Sallah and Johnson used fires and explosives in an effort to steal cash from four ATMs. Three of the ATMs were located in the Tampa Bay area and the fourth was in Watkinsville, Georgia. The pair was able to retrieve cash from two of the ATMs, taking a total of nearly $70,000.

“ATF is responsible for enforcing the criminal laws pertaining to explosives and arson,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary. “These types of violent crimes destroy property and negatively impact communities.”

“This investigation is proof of the strength and tenacity of the FBI and its law enforcement partners in eliminating such brazen acts of violence which threaten the communities we serve,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Division Michael F. McPherson. 

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will never tolerate someone making our community feel unsafe while doing a simple act such as going to the ATM,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “The actions of these individuals could have led to innocent people being seriously hurt or killed. They were thinking solely of their gain and not the dangerous impact it would have on others. These arrests are an example of the strength of our partnerships. Multiple agencies worked hand-in-hand to ensure these individuals were off the street, and our communities are all safer because of this teamwork.”

 “The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is pleased with the grand jury’s work to return an indictment against Sallah and Johnson for the ATM explosions,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “This was made possible due to good investigative work and a coordinated effort between multiple agencies. It is partnerships like these that allow us to work together to protect our communities and put the bad guys where they belong.”

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (South Carolina), the Jefferson City Police Department (Georgia), the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office (Georgia), the Athens Safe Streets Task Force (Georgia), and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (Georgia). Assistant United States Attorney Gregory T. Nolan is prosecuting the case.

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Updated May 22, 2020