Government, defense spar on Ohio bomb-plot sentence
CLEVELAND (AP) — The government is seeking up to life in prison for three men who pleaded guilty in a plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio, but the defense asked for leniency.
Both sides filed sentencing recommendations Thursday and today with U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd, who will sentence the three Nov. 19 in Akron.
The device was a dud provided by an FBI informant and no one was hurt. The government said the plot amounted to terrorism and that the fake bomb should be viewed as a weapon of mass destruction.
The defense for Connor Stevens, 20, of Berea; Brandon Baxter, 20, of Lakewood; and Douglas Wright, 26, of Indianapolis, said a five-year term is appropriate and that the plot wasn’t an act of anti-government terrorism.
Each man 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.
Prosecutors said they calculated the trio could face 30 years to life in prison, based on the seriousness of the crimes.
A fourth man, Anthony Hayne, pleaded guilty earlier and agreed to testify for the government.
Under the terms of his plea deal, Hayne, 35, of Cleveland will have the chance to avoid a life sentence. With the plea and offer of testimony for the prosecution, he could face 15 years to nearly 20 years in prison at his sentencing Nov. 20.
A fifth defendant is undergoing a psychiatric exam.