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Man Pleads Guilty to Arson of Abortion Clinic in Pensacola

By: Mike Vasilinda; USDOJ Email
By: Mike Vasilinda; USDOJ Email

Pensacola, FL -- July 19, 2012 --

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA –

Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, of Pensacola, has entered a plea of guilty to a federal grand jury indictment charging him with the New Year’s Day arson that destroyed the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida. The two-count indictment charged Rogers with arson and damaging a reproductive health facility. The guilty plea was announced today by the Department of Justice.

Rogers remains in federal custody and is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers on October 4, 2012. Upon his plea of guilty, Rogers faces a sentence of five to twenty years in prison for the arson count and up to one year in prison for damaging a reproductive health clinic.

“Today’s guilty plea is the culmination of a cooperative law enforcement response committed to bringing to justice someone who used violence to target reproductive health care workers,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute acts of violence that threaten reproductive health workers and establishments.” Pamela C. Marsh, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, added, “I am deeply grateful for the cooperation of our federal, state, and local partners, who worked tirelessly to very quickly identify the perpetrator of this hate-motivated crime. The Department of Justice has prioritized fighting violent crime and protecting civil rights, and our Office takes both of these priorities very seriously, as demonstrated by the swift prosecution of this case.”

The prosecution of Rogers is the result of the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Pensacola Police Department, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edwin Knight and Chiraag Bains, Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

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Indictment Returned in Firebombing of American Family Planning Clinic
US DOJ Press Release

Pensacola, FL -- February 23, 2012 --

Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, of Pensacola, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the fire that destroyed the American Family Planning Clinic on January 1, 2012, in Pensacola, Florida. The two-count indictment charges Rogers with Arson and Damaging a Reproductive Health facility. The indictment was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Rogers remains in federal custody following his arrest on January 5, 2012. If convicted at trial, the defendant faces a sentence of five to twenty years in prison for the arson count and up to one year in prison for damaging a reproductive health clinic.

An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The indictment of Rogers is a result of the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Pensacola Police Department, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edwin Knight and Chiraag Bains, Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

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Alleged Arsonist Arrested for North Florida Abortion Clinic Fire

Pensacola, FL -- January 5, 2012 --

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Bobby Joe Rogers of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a joint investigation involving the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The investigation determined that Rogers set fire to a clinic, causing approximately $300,000 in damage.

“We are thankful that no one was injured during this incident and for the collaboration between all of the law enforcement agencies involved in this case,” said CFO Atwater, who also serves as State Fire Marshal. “I would like to also thank members of the Pensacola community for providing the critical information needed to promptly resolve this case.”

On January 1, 2012, the Pensacola Fire Department responded to a fire at the American Family Planning Clinic located at 6770 N. 9th Avenue in Pensacola, Florida and requested the assistance of the BFAI to investigate the cause of the fire. The investigation determined that the fire was intentionally set.

The details surrounding this fire initiated the response of members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The JTTF is composed of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies whose primary work is to identify and disrupt terrorist activity. The following agencies cooperated in this investigation; the Florida State Fire Marshal Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, the Pensacola Fire Department, the Pensacola Police Department, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service.

“This arrest demonstrates the strategic value of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the high level of cooperation among the numerous agencies involved,” said Julius Halas, Director, Division of State Fire Marshal.

Members of the community came forward with information that led to the arrest of Rogers, who is being held at the Escambia County Jail pending a federal indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The federal charges are a result of violation of federal criminal law concerning use of explosive materials and Rogers could face up to 20 years in prison.

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Pensacola, FL -- January 4, 2012 --

Arson investigators are awaiting the results of evidence that was taken from the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola. The Abortion provider was hit by fire early Sunday morning. This is the same clinic where a doctor was murdered in 1994.

The American Family Planning clinic went up in flames early Sunday morning in Pensacola. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. The clinic has been the subject of attacks for almost two decades. It is the same clinic where Dr. John Britton and an escort were murdered in July 1994.

Paul Hill was eventually executed for the murders. Evidence from the clinic fire is being sent here, to the state arson lab in Tallahassee.

“We can tell which molecules are present,” Chief of Forensic Services Carl Chasteen said. “By knowing which molecules are necessary for certain types of ignitable liquids, we can determine the type of ignitable liquid, if there was one.”

Planned parenthood says they are awaiting the results of the investigation, but they are concerned the fire will leave many women without an option. They are also decrying legislative efforts this year and last to restrict abortion rights.

“It was an all-out attack on women and access to healthcare last year,” Planned Parenthood Vice President Judith Selzer said. What’s really sad is that this year, it’s starting all over again.”

When lawmakers walk through the doors of the capital next week to begin their annual session, they’ll find 6 bills dealing with abortion.

Two bills contain more than a dozen different restrictions. Voters may also see a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, which if passed, could make it harder for women seeking abortions.

State Forensic scientists say it will take about six days to analyze the evidence after it has been received. Even then, investigators say they may or may not make public the findings.


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