Clemons faces five years to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in July.
“This defendant not only caused devastating damage to a longtime Maryland business he also endangered our brave firefighters who responded to the arson that he set,” acting U. S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner said in a statement released by his office.
David Mabrey, a Pasadena attorney who was one of two lawyers representing Clemons, said his client has been in custody since his arrest in 2019. He said defense attorneys are still working on what sentence they will recommend to U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett.
Clemons accepted the plea after his legal team initially said he would fight the charges.
“Our client was remorseful for his actions and wanted to be accountable for them,” Mabrey said.
Clemons was charged with second-degree assault and theft after attacking his girlfriend on the bar patio early on the morning of July 22. He was served with a summons one day before the arson.
According to the plea agreement, on July 28 he filled multiple plastic cups with gasoline, lighted cloths used for wicks, and tossed them onto the roof of the bar located in the 9100 block of Fort Smallwood Road.
Fire investigators recovered surveillance video from the bar recording system that survived the fire. They spotted multiple flashes of light on the west side of the building. A specially trained K-9 team detected gasoline on the west side of the building near a fence, the spot where investigators believe Clemons stood while launching the firebombs.
That led investigators to a pink gardening glove found that tested positive for an ignitable liquid and contained Clemons’ DNA.
Armed with a search warrant in November 2017, investigators obtained text messages from Clemons’ cellphone indicating he was concerned that police would find footage of his assault on his girlfriend on the video recordings system at the bar.
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One message sent July 26, according to court records, read: “Yea they’ll probably get the video I’ll be f----- more bs from f------ drinking [sic] told if I don’t stop I’m gonna get n trouble.”
Someone else sent Clemons a text that read: “So he has zero proof then SMFH u got this he ain’t getting far with those bogus charges…just the tape is all he has and [Victim] can say u were kidding or something and she didn’t press charges so that’s good.”
Clemons pleaded guilty in May 2018 to the domestic assault at Coconut Charlie’s and was given a suspended sentence of three years in jail.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2019, two years after the fire, and arrested two months later.
Lenzner thanked investigators with the ATF and in the Anne Arundel County Fire Department for their investigative work.