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Fourth man sentenced to prison in failed Ohio bridge bomb plot

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:23 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Corrects age of defendant sentenced to 36 from 35)

* Group bought inert explosives from undercover FBI agent

* Public never in danger, no ties to foreign militants

By Kim Palmer

AKRON, Ohio, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A self-described anarchist was sentenced on Friday to six years in prison after pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against others accused of plotting to blow up a four-lane highway bridge near Cleveland.

Anthony Hayne, 36, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to use and the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, as well as malicious use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.

In sentencing Hayne, U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. also gave him lifetime probation, which will require him to regularly check in with authorities.

Hayne acted as a lookout in April on the night of the attempted bombing, according to FBI testimony.

He had been expected to face more than 15 years in prison at sentencing. But three men he had agreed to testify against in a trial that was to have started in September pleaded guilty and received lighter sentences.

Dowd sentenced Hayne co-defendants Douglas Wright, 27, to 11-1/2 years in prison; Brandon Baxter, 20, to just under 10 years; and Connor Stevens, 20, to eight years. They also will be on probation for life.

Authorities accused five men in all of plotting to blow up the bridge, which is located 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Cleveland and runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The fifth man, Joshua Stafford, has been undergoing competency testing.

They were arrested after leaving two toolboxes at the base of the bridge that contained inert C-4 explosives bought from an undercover FBI agent, then driving to a restaurant and trying to set off the fake bomb using a cellphone.

The FBI has said the public was never in danger and that the men had no ties to foreign militant groups.

The investigation into the group began in October 2011 when an informant met the men at an anti-Wall Street Occupy Cleveland rally.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach told reporters after a hearing in September that his office was not spying on protest groups such as Occupy and did not entrap the men.

Hayne's attorney, Michael O'Shea, told the judge that his client was the first to take responsibility for a "stupid and psychopathic idea."

But testimony by Hayne provided substantial assistance to the prosecution and "torpedoed" the idea the men were victims of entrapment, O'Shea said. (Editing by David Bailey and Eric Walsh)

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