Four young self-described anarchists caught planning to blow up an Ohio bridge in an FBI sting operation have received sentences ranging from six to 11½ years in federal prison.
Anthony M. Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, the first to plead guilty and the last of the four to be sentenced, received a six-year term Friday after apologizing in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio, public radio station WKSU reported. A fifth defendant, Joshua S. Stafford, 23, is undergoing a psychiatric examination.
Earlier, U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd sentenced 26-year-old Douglas L. Wright to 11½ years; 20-year-old Brandon L. Baxter to 10 years, and 20-year-old Connor C. Stevens to eight years.
The men had ties to the Occupy Movement but decided it wasn’t proactive enough, so they secretly formed an anarchist group — calling itself the Revolutionary People’s Party — and took steps to blow up a highway bridge near Cleveland after discussing bombing other targets, including a Ku Klux Klan gathering spot and a Federal Reserve Bank, court documents allege.
The planned act of terrorism was to coincide with May 1 antigovernment, anti-establishment protests planned in Cleveland and other U.S. cities.
The bombs the men purchased were fake. They were arrested on the evening of April 30 after three members of the group planted the two inert C-4 explosive devices at the base of the Route 82 bridge crossing from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, south of downtown Cleveland.
Defense attorneys had argued that the defendants, who all lived in or near Cleveland, were victims of government entrapment, set up by an FBI informant with a felony record. But the judge ruled the actions of the defendants were intended to intimidate the U.S. government and, therefore, amounted to an attempted act of terrorism, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Wright, Baxter and Stevens pleaded guilty in September after Hayne did so in July, agreeing to become a prosecution witness against the others in exchange for a lighter sentence.