Three men were sentenced to federal prison after burning multiple U.S. Postal Service trucks outside a southwest Atlanta post office in 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
John Wesley Wade, Ellie Melvin Brett and Vida Messiah Jones pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in connection with the arson of five postal trucks and were sentenced to federal time, court records show. The burned trucks were found outside a post office along Oglethorpe Avenue in southwest Atlanta in October, according to arrest warrants.
Wade and Brett were sentenced in February and March, respectively, to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Jones was sentenced in March to time served and three years of supervised release. All three are required to pay $35,000 in restitution, according to court records.
A lead prosecutor on the case told Channel 2 Action News that the men’s motive is not entirely clear. But evidence gathered in an investigation by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies suggested their actions may have been intended as a political protest against the 2020 election.
“When people utilize arson as a means to terrorize communities, then ATF will investigate as we did here,” ATF special agent Ben Gibbons told the news station.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret Hobson told Channel 2 that during the arson, Wade was wearing an ankle monitor after receiving bond in the Fulton County case involving the arson of the Wendy’s near the Rayshard Brooks shooting. Wade and two others accused in that case pleaded not guilty in early March.
“We could match up the GPS location information with all seven locations to show that he was at all these incidents,” Hobson told the news station.
The three were also arrested after East Point police found two vehicles burned and vandalized on McGee Way on Oct. 2, 2020. A brick was thrown into one of the cars’ windows, and a note on the ground near the vehicles referenced political rhetoric, police spokesman Capt. Allyn Glover said at the time.
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