The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

May 2, 2012

Officials charge five in attempt to blow up Brecksville bridge

Judge orders men jailed without bond pending a hearing Monday

CLEVELAND — Five men described by federal authorities as anarchists angry with corporate America and the government were charged Tuesday with plotting to bomb an Ohio bridge linking two wealthy Cleveland suburbs.

The men were arrested Monday night after unknowingly working with an FBI informant for months, a strategy that federal investigators have used repeatedly in recent years to nab alleged terrorists.

“They talked about making a statement against corporate America and the government as some of the motivations for their actions,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said in announcing the arrests with the head of the FBI in Cleveland, Stephen Anthony.

The alleged plotters researched explosives and obtained what they thought was C-4 explosives. The material, in fact, was harmless and the public was never at risk, because the men got it from the informant, officials said.

The men planted the fake explosives at the base of the bridge, armed them, went to a remote spot and “entered the codes that they thought would blow up the bridge with innocent people traveling over it,” Dettelbach said.

The men were charged with conspiracy and trying to bomb property used in interstate commerce. All five appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court, where Magistrate Judge Greg White ordered them jailed without bond pending a hearing Monday.

The suspects were identified as Joshua S. Stafford, 23, and Anthony Hayne, 35, both of Cleveland; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of nearby Lakewood; Connor Stevens, 20, of suburban Berea; and Douglas L. Wright, 26; of Indianapolis. The charges carry possible penalties of more than 20 years in prison.

At the hearing, the men, with wrist manacles chained to the waist, sat in the jury box with their attorneys and acknowledged receiving copies of the complaint against them and an understanding of their rights.

At the end of the hearing, Stevens’ father, James, shouted, “Love you, Connor.” The father left court without commenting.

The target of the plot was a bridge that carries a state highway over part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a picturesque scenic rail line and canal towpath in the Brecksville area, about 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland.

The men had been associated with the anti-corporate Occupy Cleveland movement but don’t share its non-violent views, organizer Debbie Kline said.

“They were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland,” Kline said in an email canceling the group’s May Day protest at a GE Lighting plant in view of the arrests of the “autonomous group” of five.

The alleged plotters were frustrated that other anti-corporate protesters opposed violence, according to Dettelbach, citing the criminal complaint filed in the case.

“It talks about the anger and frustration that these five individuals felt that other people would not support their violent aims,” Dettelbach said.

Federal authorities said their investigation was aided by a paid confidential source who had previous robbery and other convictions and was on probation for passing bad checks. The informant began making contact with the men in October and had recorded conversations with them over the past three months, according to an affidavit.

The men considered different plots over time, including distracting law enforcement with smoke grenades while trying to bring down financial institution signs in downtown Cleveland.

The men also discussed other potential targets, including a law enforcement center, oil wells, a cargo ship or the opening of a new downtown casino, according to the affidavit. The document also alleges that one suspect talked about being part of group planning to cause trouble during an upcoming NATO summit in Chicago.

The group finally settled on blowing up the busy bridge, federal authorities alleged.

Click here to subscribe to The Star Beacon print edition.



Click here to subscribe to The Star Beacon replica edition.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Rain of asteroids melted early Earth, boiled its oceans

    When you look up at the moon’s pockmarked face, you’re actually staring at Earth’s early history. The rain of asteroids that pummeled the lunar surface hit our planet too - it’s just that erosion and plate tectonics blotted out the evidence. In fact, no rocks anywhere in the world survived to tell the story of the first 500 million years of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year existence, a tumultuous period of frequent impacts known darkly as the Hadean.

    August 1, 2014

  • As U.S. job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

    For millions of workers, happy days aren’t quite here again.

    August 1, 2014

  • Energy boom brings new focus on rail, pipeline safety

    The sharp increase in U.S. oil production and its promise of energy independence is coming with a disastrous byproduct: spills that threaten lives, communities and the environment.

    August 1, 2014

  • Deep-sea octopus goes without food for 4.5 years while watching eggs

    Talk about extreme parenting: Scientists have found a deep-sea octopus mama that faithfully guards the same clutch of eggs for an incredible 4 1/2 years — a record.

    July 31, 2014

  • Study finds 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 30, 2014

  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video