Three men charged with plotting to bomb a highway bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron, OH, pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme in a federal court Wednesday.
According to a Fox News report, Connor Stevens, 20, of Berea, Brandon Baxter, 20, of Lakewood and Douglas Wright, 26, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to all three counts against them before a federal judge in Akron.
The three were among five arrested in the plot. In July, another defendant, 35-year-old Anthony Hayne of Cleveland, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the government in the case. Another defendant, 23-year-old Joshua Stafford could still face trial. He is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
All were charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, knowingly attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage property with explosives after federal authorities arrested them in late April after the group attempted to detonate what was actually a fake explosive provided by a paid FBI informant.
The government claims the defendants are self-proclaimed anarchists who acted out of anger against corporate America and the government. But one defense attorney has called the investigation a case of entrapment, with the FBI informant guiding the way.
According to the Fox report, FBI agent Brian Taylor testified in early August that one of the suspects told him the group targeted the bridge in the national park to minimize the impact of the explosion and avoid casualties.
The men now face a sentencing hearing where prosecutors will argue for up to life in prison. Defense attorneys have asked for sentences in the range of five years. Sentencing was tentatively scheduled for early November.
The fact that the three pleaded guilty along with federal sentencing guidelines mean the defendants will likely receive far less than the 30 years to life the government is requesting, the news report says.