City Desk

Kal Penn’s Alleged Mugger Arrested (But Not Convicted)

Actor Kal Penn (Kalpen Modi) was mugged the last time he was in the District. Now he's returning—and it turns out his robber was arrested months ago, but is still in judicial limbo.

Penn, who was working for the Obama administration as a staffer until he quit in April to film another Harold and Kumar flick, earned himself some D.C. street cred when he was robbed at gunpoint later that month. The White House recently announced he'd be returning to the Office of Public Engagement as an associate director.

But is Penn glad to be back? He was sauntering the 1500 block of S Street NW at around 1:30 a.m. one night last spring, when, according to a police report, he was stripped of his valuables, including a BlackBerry and iPhone. City Desk asked him about the mugging via e-mail, and the celebrity shot back a message that indicated he couldn't talk about it. But he also seemed a little frustrated. "In terms of the robbery, my understanding is that since it’s an ongoing (albeit absurdly slow) investigation, I can’t comment on anything related to it at the moment," Penn wrote.

The "absurdly slow" investigation Penn is lamenting is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office. In June, City Desk has discovered, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested Marcellus Chambers for the mugging.

According to an arrest warrant,  the alleged stick-up man used Penn's bank card at "numerous locations along the Georgia Ave. NW corridor approximately an hour after the robbery." At one of those locations Chambers was caught on video. His license plate was also captured.

Later, cops tracked a signal from Penn's stolen iPhone to the "area of Warder and Otis Streets NW." But "due to a weak signal," they were unable to pinpoint the phone's exact location. It was in the proximity of Chambers' address in the 700 block of Quincy Street NW, however. Responding to a disorderly conduct call on that block several days later, cops happened upon Chambers, who was sitting in a Toyota Camry. They busted him.

About a month later, Penn was asked to identify Chambers in a photo array. But he couldn't be sure Chambers was the guy. "After viewing the array C1 stated, number 4 resembles the person who robbed me, without 100% certain[t]y," the MPD report says.

Arrested for robbery while armed, Chambers has been released on high-intensity supervision. No word yet on whether Penn ever got his iPhone back.

Update: U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson William Miller says he declines comment on the specifics of the case because it remains pending and the investigation is continuing, but says his office "has missed no deadlines and is well within legal timelines."

Photo by SAITOR, Creative Commons Attribution License

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  • DCexpat

    Imagine if MPD investigated every mugging as aggressively as this one!? Tracking his cell phone!? Most of us who are mugged are told something like "Tough luck, you shouldn't have moved here."

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