Created on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Three men who pleaded guilty in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio face sentencing before a judge who agreed with prosecutors that they should be punished as terrorists.
FILE- This combo image made of undated file photos provided by the FBI shows, from left, Brandon Baxter, Douglas Wright and Connor Stevens. The three men, who pleaded guilty in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio, face sentencing before a judge who agreed with prosecutors that they should be punished as terrorists on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. A fourth defendant will be sentenced on Wednesday and a fifth is undergoing a psychiatric exam. (AP Photo/FBI, File)
Alleged ringleader Douglas Wright, 26, could face more than 30 years in prison. Guidelines call for shorter sentences for the other two men.
U.S. District Judge David Dowd scheduled sentencing Tuesday morning for Wright, of Indianapolis; Connor Stevens, 20, of Berea in suburban Cleveland; and Brandon Baxter, 20, of Lakewood, also in suburban Cleveland.
A fourth defendant will be sentenced on Wednesday and a fifth is undergoing a psychiatric exam.
Stevens, Baxter and Wright 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 that would have reduced their sentences.
Last week Dowd backed a government request to consider stricter sentences based on a "terrorist enhancement" for the trio. The ruling that the three were trying to intimidate the government expanded possible sentences from five or six years to 15 to 30 years or more.
The men were arrested by the FBI and had targeted a bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron. The FBI has said the public was never in danger and the device was a dud provided by an informant.
The suspects were described by the government as self-proclaimed anarchists who acted out of anger against corporate America and the government.
The defense called the case entrapment, with the informant guiding the way, and said the plot was more an act of vandalism than anti-government terrorism. They asked for sentences in the range of five years.
The government said the plot "was meant to convey a message to the civilian population, the corporate world, the financial system, and all levels of government."