A federal judge sentenced LGBTQ activists Corey Smith and Elaine Carberry to six months in prison Friday for torching an NYPD homeless outreach van.
Carberry, 38, and Smith, 26, will also have to serve six months in home confinement and pay more than $72,000 in restitution. The duo was also sentenced to 400 hours of community service, the New York Post reported.
Last year, Smith and Carberry, who both use gender-neutral pronouns, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson for setting the NYPD vehicle ablaze on July 15, 2020, near the corner of 12th Street and University Place.
Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a Justice Department press release when charges were announced in 2020: "As alleged, Corey Smith and Elaine Carberry deliberately set fire to an NYPD van, then minutes later returned to the vehicle and – once again using an accelerant – ensured its complete destruction."
The van did not explode, "but you could not have known that when you set fire to it," the judge said during sentencing. "You put innocent lives at risk," he added.
"You crossed a line. A line that is critical to a lawful, civil society," stated Judge Lewis Liman before handing the sentence to Smith.
Liman stressed that the officers who used the police van had "done nothing to you," calling the arson "more than a mere act of property destruction."
"They were performing a service that benefits all of us," Liman said of the officers who used the van to provide services to homeless New Yorkers.
"Your crime was a very serious one," Liman said, emphasizing that a non-incarceration sentence would "send precisely the wrong message."
"I am devastated by the harm I have caused," said Carberry, who is a Brown University graduate. "I made a terribly dangerous mistake. A mistake I will never stop trying to right," Carberry said in court during prepared remarks.
Carberry pleaded for a non-prison sentence. "I beg you to let that suffering cease today," Carberry implored. "I'm asking for your mercy."
"Today was about truth, reconciliation, liberation, growth and healing. No matter the outcome of this … we continue to move forward to our liberation," Smith, who plans to attend grad school at the city's prestigious New School in Manhattan, told the New York Post after the sentencing hearing.
The crime happened during the summer 2020 riots as Black Lives Matter activists in cities across America responded to George Floyd's death in police custody.