They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
Douglas Wright, Brandon Baxter and Connor Stevens were arrested in May as part of an FBI sting. They were charged with plotting to use C-4 explosives to blow up the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge in Ohio as part of a "May Day" protest. A fourth man, Anthony Hayne, is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, while a fifth, Joshua Stafford, is undergoing a competency evaluation.
Federal prosecutors on Friday filed paperwork asking U.S. District Judge David Dowd Jr. to sentence Wright to 30 years, Baxter to 25 years and Stevens to 19 years in prison. The men, in their early- to mid-20s, pleaded guilty in September. The government contended that all three pose a danger to society, suggesting Wright has a "history of glorifying violence and seeking out confrontation," arguing that Baxter had "utter contempt for human life" and calling Stevens "a young man filled with violence and hatred."
Dozens of family members, friends and associates of Baxter and Stevens wrote letters to Dowd asking the judge for leniency. Many of the letters took issue with the tactics the FBI used during the investigation, claiming the bureau set up the men.
As the Smoking Gun reported, the FBI's cooperating witness in the plot was 39-year-old Shaquille Azir, who was arrested for bad check and theft charges while he was cooperating with the feds. Lawyers for all three of the men argued earlier this month that Azir "knew how to play the system" by having his attorney inform local court authorities about his work with the FBI.
"It is no wonder that the [Azir] went to the great lengths that he did in order to get the defendants indicted," lawyers for the men argued. "He had to, if he was going to stay out of jail. He seduced three homeless troubled young men with meals, money, jobs and drugs and then prodded them into accepting the C-4 when they had no plan to acquire it, let alone to use it."