One of five self-proclaimed anarchists has pleaded guilty to three federal “weapons of mass destruction” charges in a conspiracy to blow up a bridge, a Ku Klux Klan gathering spot and a Federal Reserve Bank in Ohio.
Anthony M. Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and malicious use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.
Hayne entered his pleas before U.S. District Judge David Dowd in Cleveland and agreed to testify against the other defendants. Prosecutors said he could have received life in prison, but under the plea deal he could lower his sentence to 15 to 19 years. No date for sentencing was set.
“We are satisfied with today’s guilty plea and are prepared to prove the allegations against the remaining defendants,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Hayne, Douglas L. Wright, Brandon L. Baxter, Connor C. Stevens and Joshua S. Stafford – all self-described anarchists – were arrested by FBI agents on the evening of April 30 after three members of the group planted what they thought were two C-4 based explosive devices at the base of the Route 82 bridge crossing the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, south of downtown Cleveland.
The group also discussed using smoke grenades to distract law enforcement while co-conspirators would use explosives to topple signs atop high-rise financial institutions in downtown Cleveland.
The planned acts of terrorism were to coincide with May 1 antigovernment, anti-establishment protests planned in Cleveland and other U.S. cities.
The C-4 explosive devices, which were inert, were purchased by the suspects the day before their arrests from a man who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, court documents disclose. At no time was the public in danger, the FBI said in a statement detailing the arrests.
The suspects discussed “plans involving violence and destruction to physical property in a variety of ways in order to send a message to corporations and the United States Government,” court documents allege.
“By entering this plea of guilty, Mr. Hayne has taken responsibility for his intent to use explosives to express his ideological views,” said Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI Cleveland Division, which was involved in the investigation.