Schenectady man pleads guilty to Molotov cocktail fire

Schenectady County
Joel Malek 2017 mugshot (Rotterdam Police)

Joel Malek 2017 mugshot (Rotterdam Police)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – According to the Department of Justice, Joel Malek, 43, of Schenectady pleaded guilty to possessing a Molotov cocktail and using it to set fire to a vehicle.

Wednesday’s guilty plea means that Malek admitted to using the improvised incendiary device to cause damage in Schenectady on June 5, 2020. After a “coconspirator”—according to the DOJ—smashed in the driver-side rear window of a vehicle, Malek lit the cocktail and threw it inside, through the window. The fire Malek started led to an explosion, but no one was injured.

“Joel Malek firebombed a vehicle, damaging a Schenectady resident’s property and frightening a community already on edge from the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death in Minneapolis,” said acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon. “Today’s plea holds Malek fully accountable for his brazen and cruel act. I commend the investigators who worked quickly to solve the firebombing and arrest this dangerous man.”

Malek has been in custody since he was arrested on October 6, 2020, with sentencing scheduled for October 7, 2021. Malek faces up to 10 years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and three years of supervised release. The DOJ says he also agreed to pay $3,000 in restitution to the vehicle’s owner.

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