United States v. Aaron Lee Speed: Criminal Complaint: Maryland Arson Charges

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
 
               - v. -
 
AARON LEE SPEED
 
                  Defendant.
 

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 Criminal Complaint


I, the undersigned complainant, being duly sworn, state the following is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

On or about December 6, 2004, AARON LEE SPEED did maliciously damage and destroy, and attempt to damage and destroy, by means of fire, houses constructed on or being constructed on

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  • lots numbered 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 46, 47, 58, 60, 65, 66, 68, 70, 71, and 74, located at the Hunter’s Brooke housing development in Indian Head, Maryland, in the District of Maryland, which were properties used in, and used in an activity affecting, interstate commerce,

    in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 844(i) and 18 U.S.C. Section 2.

    I further state that I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and that this complaint is based on the following facts:

    SEE ATTACHED AFFIDAVIT

    Continued on the attached sheet and made a part hereof:         X   Yes    __  No



    _____________________________
    Special Agent G. Joseph Bradley
    Federal Bureau of Investigation

    Sworn to before me and subscribed in my presence,


    at Greenbelt, Maryland
    Date and Time Issued
    Honorable William Connelly
    U.S. Magistrate Judge
                        _____________________________
                             Signature of Judicial Officer


    AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

    I.                 Purpose of the affidavit

                       This affidavit is submitted in support of a criminal complaint charging AARON LEE SPEED, [Redacted by FindLaw] Copley Avenue, Waldorf, Maryland, with maliciously damaging and destroying, and attempting to damage and destroy, by means of fire, houses constructed on or being constructed on lots numbered 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 46, 47, 58, 60, 65, 66, 68, 70, 71 and 74 located at the Hunter’s Brooke housing development in Indian Head, Maryland, in the District of Maryland, which were properties used in and used in an activity affecting interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 844(i) and 18 U.S.C. Section 2.

    II.                 Your Affiant

                       Your affiant, Joseph Bradley, being first duly sworn, deposes and states that I have been in law enforcement for approximately eighteen (18) years. For the past ten years, your affiant has been a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Currently, your affiant is assigned to the Annapolis Resident Agency which includes responsibility for the Charles County area. Your affiant has been involved primarily in investigating violent and narcotics related crimes.

                       The information set forth below is based upon my personal observations or upon information provided to me by other law enforcement officers participating in the investigation as indicated.

    III.                 Probable Cause

                      1.     On December 6, 2004, at 0454 hours, a call was made to the Charles County, Maryland 911 Emergency System for the report of fire at a single family dwelling in the Hunter’s Brooke Subdivision. Fire suppression units, along with the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, weredispatched to the fire scene. Investigators found that incendiary fires had been set/attempted in 45 homes, in varying stages of construction, at Hunter’s Brooke, a new home development in Indian Head, Maryland. At least 10 homes were severely damaged with total damages expected to exceed 10 million dollars for the 45 homes. The developer, Lennar Homes, Inc., utilized Security Services of America (SSA) for overnight security services at Hunter’s Brooke.

                      2.     Fire scene investigators submitted various containers and other items, along with fire debris, to the FBI and ATF laboratories for analysis. The laboratories were able to determine that the fire debris samples contained a mixture of toluene and Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK). Your affiant knows that both substances are ignitable liquids and that this combination of ignitable liquids is not readily/commonly available to the general public.

                      3.     On December 10, 2004, investigators interviewed a witness, who stated that he was the security guard at Hunter’s Brooke on the night of December 5/6, 2004. The witness told investigators that he did not observe any unusual activity at the site and that he secured/discontinued his patrols at approximately 4:45 a.m. on Monday, December 6, 2004.

                      4.      On December 11, 2004, investigators re-interviewed the security guard witness. During this interview, the witness changed his statement when confronted with the fact that his assertion that he left the site at 4:45 am was not consistent with witnesses who saw signs of the fire as early as 4:15 am. The witness asked for a smoking break. When the witness returned, he stated that he had not been truthful about his schedule the morning of the fire. The witness stated that his supervisor told him that he could leave at 4:30 am instead of his normal shift ending at 5:00 am. The witness stated that he had actually left at 4:00 am. The witness stated that he did not want to admit this to investigators since he felt this would cost him his job with SSA.

                      5.     The witness told investigators that he notified AARON LEE SPEED, a SSA co-worker who was working at another property, that he would be securing the Hunter’s Brooke site and leaving at 4:30 a.m. The witness also told investigators that the communication with SPEED was made via Nextel (direct connect) cellular telephone service. The witness advised investigators that SPEED told him that it was 4:30 a.m. during that call. Cell records obtained by investigators do not show a call between the witness and SPEED at 4:30 a.m.; however, the records do show a Direct Connect contact from the witness to SPEED at 3:21 a.m.

                      6.     The witness further told investigators that he again spoke to AARON LEE SPEED when he was on his way home from work or shortly after arriving at home and that SPEED told him he was home in bed sleeping. Cellular records show a second call between the witness and SPEED at 5:05 a.m.

                      7.     The witness stated that he first learned of the fires from a call from AARON LEE SPEED during a third call via the Nextel Direct Connect. Nextel records only show the calls at 3:21 a.m. and 5:05 a.m. During this conversation, SPEED told the witness that there was a fire at the housing development, and that SPEED’s fire company was being dispatched to the fire scene. The witness had been told previously by SPEED that SPEED was a firefighter. The witness stated that he did not have any details regarding SPEED’s fire fighting job but stated he was not surprised when investigators told him that SPEED was not a fire fighter. The witness stated that he spoke to SPEED and that SPEED claimed he was being dispatched to the fire. The witness could not recall the exact time but recalled that while he was talking to SPEED, the witness heard on his radio scanner in histruck that the Accokeek Fire Station was just getting dispatched to the fire. Dispatch printouts show that the Accokeek Fire Station was dispatched at approximately 5:08 am.

                      8.     The witness stated that he dropped off his security light at the security station. The videotape at the guard shack shows the witness dropping off his gear at approximately 5:12 a.m. According to the witness, he then proceeded to get gas at a Safeway gas station. The witness further stated to investigators that, once he arrived at home, AARON LEE SPEED called him again and said that he was at the scene. Cell phone records show a call from SPEED to the witness at approximately 7:48 a.m.

                      9.     AARON LEE SPEED, during initial interviews conducted after the fire, stated that he left his own job site at approximately 3:00 a.m. and went home. SPEED stated he did not leave his house until after he heard about the fire from a telephone call at approximately 7:00 a.m. After he heard about the fire, he went to the scene to help direct traffic. The Nextel records show that at 3:05 a.m., SPEED’s cell phone was connecting to a cell tower site near his home. At 3:21 a.m., SPEED’s cell phone was connecting with the cell tower on Route 301 in White Plains, Maryland, which is south of his residence and is consistent with a physical movement of the cell phone towards the fire scene. At 5:05 a.m., SPEED’s cell phone was connecting with a cell tower at Route 301 and Route 228, which is north of his residence. Both of these observations are indicative that SPEED was not at his residence between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., which time period encompasses/includes the estimated time of the arson/fire ignition.

                      10.     On December 10, 2004, investigators again interviewed AARON LEE SPEED, who stated that on the night of December 5/6, 2004, he was the security guard on duty at WakefieldApartments in Waldorf, Maryland and that his shift began during the evening of December 5, 2004 and concluded at 3:00 a.m. on December 6, 2004. SPEED told investigators that after his shift ended, he went home to be with his son and wait for his wife to come home at 7:00 a.m. on December 6, 2004. SPEED stated that his brother telephonically informed him about the Hunter’s Brooke fire at approximately 6:55 a.m. on December 6, 2004. SPEED indicated that he responded to Hunter’s Brooke to assist with traffic control at 7:30 a.m.

                      11.     During the December 10, 2004, interview, investigators asked AARON LEE SPEED to provide input on several areas. Some examples of his statements include, but are not limited to the following:

  • SPEED was asked in his opinion on how the fires may have been set on December 6, 2004, at Hunter’s Brook housing development? SPEED immediately stated:

  • “Someone pouring an accelerant, followed by someone lighting it.”

  • SPEED was asked how someone would light the accelerant?

  • SPEED stated: “With a torch.”

  • SPEED was asked what type of torch could be used?

  • SPEED stated: “Hand held propane torch.”

  • SPEED later stated: “It would take approximately fifteen minutes to set each house on fire, and one full hour for the house to be fully engulfed in flames.”

  • SPEED was asked who might have set the fire?

  • SPEED stated: “Someone who works at the site and recently experienced a great loss.”

  •                   12.     Your affiant knows that fire investigators located a small propane torch on the firescene. In addition, your affiant knows that SPEED suffered a great loss in the Spring of 2004. During the interview on December 10, 2004 with ATF Special Agent Matt Varisco, and Charles County Detective Charles Baker, SPEED stated that he left SSA from August 2004 until October 2004, due to SSA’s indifference to the death of his infant son. SPEED further explained that he felt SSA was not sympathetic to his family’s needs during their time of crisis. SPEED stated that his son died in April 2004, and that the death of his son was ruled an accident by the medical examiner’s office.

                      13.     On December 16, 2004, AARON LEE SPEED voluntarily appeared at the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, LaPlata, Maryland to undergo a polygraph examination. He was read his rights and waived them. SPEED subsequently failed the polygraph examination, including an inquiry as to whether SPEED helped to start the Hunter’s Brooke fires and whether SPEED was involved in starting any of the fires. SPEED subsequently provided a statement to law enforcement authorities which contradicted his earlier statements. SPEED claimed that he was present at the location, along with others with whom he was acquainted, while the fires were being lit. SPEED claimed that he knew of the plan by others known to him to set a fire at the location. He also asserted that he told others how to gain access to the site. The times SPEED gave for his presence at the scene of the fire and for his subsequent return home are consistent with the cell site tower information obtained by law enforcement authorities.

                      14.     Forensic analysis of items recovered from the crime scene as well as other locations is ongoing, including testing for the presence of DNA. While the examinations are not complete, to date none of the testing has resulted in a match with SPEED’s DNA.

    IV.                 Conclusion

                      Based on the foregoing, I submit that there is probable cause to believe that AARON LEE SPEED did maliciously damage and destroy, and attempt to damage and destroy, by means of fire, houses constructed on or being constructed on lots numbered 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 46, 47, 58, 60, 65, 66, 68, 70, 71 and 74 located at the Hunter’s Brooke housing development in Indian Head, Maryland, in the District of Maryland, which were properties used in and used in an activity affecting interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 844(i) and 18 U.S.C. Section 2.



       _______________________________
    G. Joseph Bradley
    Special Agent
    Federal Bureau of Investigation


    Subscribed and sworn before me on December 17, 2004.


    _______________________________
    Honorable William Connelly
    U.S. Magistrate Judge


    Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice

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