Anarchist Bridge Plot Suspects Plead Guilty, Could Face 30 Years In Prison
An anarchist bridge plot intended to blow up a four-lane highway near Cleveland has led to three guilty pleas from the domestic terrorists accused of hatching the plan.
The three anarchists — Douglas Wright, 26, Brandon Baxter, 20, and Connor Stevens, 20 — all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce, Reuters reported.
The anarchist bridge plot was supposed to go off in early May, coinciding with anti-government and anti-establishment protests planned in Cleveland and other US cities, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch blog reported. Authorities found out about the planned attack and had an undercover FBI agent sell the men inoperable detonators and plastic explosives. The men were then arrested on April 30.
After pleading guilty before US District Judge David Dowd Jr., the men are scheduled to be sentenced in November. The trial had been planned to begin later in September.
In total, five men were accused of the anarchist bridge plot, which was intended for a bridge 30 miles south of Cleveland that crosses through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The fourth suspect, 35-year-old Anthony Hayne, had already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the others while the final suspect, Joshua Stafford, is still undergoing competency testing.
Lawyers for the anarchists pleading guilty asked that the men not face enhanced sentences, which would require a minimum of 30 years in prison. If the terrorism enhancement is not added, the men face a minimum of five years in prison.
The anarchists came together at an Occupy Cleveland rally, and investigators infiltrated the group in 2011 using an informant paid more than $5,000. Defense attorneys had questioned whether the informant had a role in entrapping the men, concerns they said they will raise again at sentencing.
The men had no ties to foreign military groups, the FBI found. Court documents showed that, in addition to the anarchist bridge plot, they had considered other plans ranging from smoke grenades all the way up to powerful explosives.