Failed bridge bomb plot lands 3 Ohio men in prison
BY Associated Press
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 4:11 AM
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Three men were sentenced Tuesday to years in prison after admitting to taking part in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio with what turned out to be a dud device provided by a government informant.
The father of one of the defendants, 21-year-old Connor Stevens, complained to the judge that his son had been entrapped.
"My son is guilty," James Stevens said, "and so is the government."
Prosecutors had described the suspects as self-proclaimed anarchists who acted out of anger against corporate America and the government.
All three defendants - Stevens, 27-year-old Douglas Wright and 21-year-old Brandon Baxter - apologized in court. Their attorneys said the sentences would be appealed.
Wright, an Indianapolis man authorities called the ringleader, received the toughest sentence - 11 1/2 years. He apologized to his family and the community, saying he was an addict and needed help for substance abuse, not just prison.
Baxter, of Lakewood in suburban Cleveland, was given nearly 10 years in prison. Connor Stevens, of Berea, the least involved of the trio, was sentenced to more than eight years.
"These defendants were found to have engaged in terrorist activities and will spend nearly a decade in prison," U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said. "These sentences should send a message that when individuals decide to endanger the safety of our community, they will be held to account."
U.S. District Judge David Dowd had ruled last week that the men should be sentenced as terrorists, making them subject to harsher prison terms. After leaving prison, all three will be on supervised release for the rest of their lives.
A fourth defendant is being sentenced Wednesday, and a fifth is undergoing a psychiatric exam.
Brandon Baxter's father, Andy Baxter, challenged the government's case and mentioned his own battle with alcohol abuse. He told the judge his son had "a heart of gold, and please make this as light as possible."
Stevens, Baxter and Wright pleaded guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, knowingly attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage property with explosives. There was no plea deal that would have reduced their sentences.
The men were arrested by the FBI and had targeted a bridge over Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron. The FBI has said that the public was never in danger and that the device was a dud provided by an informant.
Original Print Headline: Three men get prison in failed bridge bomb plot
Brandon Baxter (left), Douglas Wright and Connor Stevens, were sentenced to prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio. Associated Press file