Self-Described Anarchists in Ohio Terror Plot Plead Guilty
Four of five self-proclaimed anarchists - calling themselves the Revolutionary People’s Party - have now confessed to involvement in a conspiracy in late April to use C-4 explosives to blow up an interstate highway bridge near Cleveland.
After their arrests, most of the suspects quickly agreed to discuss their plans with FBI agents during middle-of-the-night interviews. One of the would-be bombers said he just wanted to go to sleep and forget everything, court documents disclose.
Douglas L. Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of Lakewood, Ohio; and Connor C. Stevens, 20, of Berea, Ohio, all pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. district court in Cleveland. Each admitted conspiring 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.
A fourth defendant, Anthony M. Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty to those same charges on July 25, agreeing to become a prosecution witnesses against his co-defendants if they took their cases to trial. They, in turn, entered into plea negotiations with federal prosecutors, leading to Tuesday’s pleas. Dates for sentencing haven’t been set, but the defendants likely will face substantial prison time.
The pleas leave just one defendant, Joshua Stafford, 23, of Cleveland, whose case will be scheduled for trial separately after a court-ordered evaluation is completed.
The five were arrested April 30, just hours before their planned act of terrorism was 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, according to court documents. The FBI said the public was never in danger.
“We are pleased these defendants have admitted to their intent to utilize violence, which threatened innocent citizens, to further their ideological views,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said. “The safety of our citizens is and continues to be the FBI’s primary focus as demonstrated by this investigation. The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”