Notorious racist Dennis Mahon will spend the next 40 years in prison – and likely die behind bars – for sending a mail bomb that exploded in 2004 and injured the diversity officer for Scottsdale, Ariz.
In handing down the sentence Tuesday in Phoenix, U.S. District Judge David Campbell said Mahon, 61, carried out an act of domestic terrorism when he mailed the potentially deadly pipe bomb to the office of Don Logan.
Federal prosecutors asked for a 63-year sentence for the former Ku Klux Klan leader and longtime associate of Tom Metzger, founder of White Aryan Resistance.
Mahon was convicted Feb. 24 of conspiracy to damage buildings and property with explosives; malicious damage of a building by means of explosives; and distribution of information related to explosives. His twin brother, Daniel Mahon, was acquitted on a single federal charge of conspiracy to damage buildings and property.
The pipe bomb was delivered on Feb. 26, 2004, to Don Logan, an African American who was then director of the Office of Diversity and Dialogue for the city of Scottsdale, near Phoenix. The bomb exploded when he opened the package, badly injuring him. Two other employees sustained lesser injuries.
“I wasn't supposed to survive that attack, but it charted my course that people deserve equal justice, equal treatment,” Logan said in court, according to The Arizona Republic. Logan retired from his Scottsdale job in 2007 and now works in Glendale, Ariz.
The mostly white jury determined the bombing was not a hate crime, and the judge defended that finding at the sentencing hearing.
“The jury was never asked if this was a hate crime,” the judge said, according to the Phoenix newspaper. Instead, the judge said the jury was asked a narrow question of whether Logan was targeted because he was black.
Dennis Mahon continued to maintain his innocence before he was sentenced, telling the judge, “I didn't do this crime. I can't apologize for something I didn't do.”
There’s a lot of convincing evidence to the contrary, federal prosecutors say. In their sentencing memorandum filed last week, prosecutors reminded the court of other details of the crime “that justify the maximum sentence.”
Mahon clearly “attempted to kill another person,” the sentencing memorandum says, by sending an “instrument of attempted murder to a workplace filled with other individuals.”
“The amount of premeditation in this case is stunning,” the court document says.
Mahon bought generic parts from different locations in an apparent attempt to confuse investigators trying to determine the origin of the improvised explosive device. The bomb-builder also included a note and “attached labels to lure the victim into a false sense of security.” He also devised a switch and packing to ensure the bomb was not detected before it detonated.
It goes on to say the bombing victims “were innocent civilians serving their community. Donald Logan and Renita Linyard will suffer the physical effects of the bombing every day for the rest of their lives. All of the bombing victims, including Jacque Bell, will endure the psychological effects of the bombing. Donald Logan in particular will never open a package without the instant reminder of the bombing.”
Mahon “did not merely speak in the abstract in favor of violence, he conspired to and committed actual acts of violence,” the prosecutor’s sentencing memo says.
The sentence “makes clear that such acts of violence will not be tolerated in Arizona,” Thomas Atteberry, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, said in a statement released after sentencing.
“We will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to put criminal hate-mongers on notice – no matter how long it takes – they are not beyond our reach,” Atteberry said.
One of those “not beyond” reach may be Mahon’s longtime mentor, Metzger, the white supremacist icon and racist ideologue who espouses “lone wolf” extremism.
As Hatewatch reported in early April, court records filed in three states show that investigators strongly suspect Metzger provided Mahon with explosive-making instructions, knowing they would be used in the commission of a crime of violence.