Three men accused of trying to blow up a bridge over the Cuayhoga Valley National Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges.
A defense that was expected to be built around claims of entrapment collapsed. M-L Schultze of member station WKSU in Kent reports.
Two 20-year-olds – Brandon Baxter of Lakewood and Connor Stevens of Berea – along with 26-year-old Douglas Wright of Indianapolis – each pleaded guilty to three charges: conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and malicious use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce. Those were the same charges 35-year-old Anthony Hayne of Cleveland pleaded guilty to in July. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettlebach says all four of them were self-proclaimed – if poorly organized – anarchists who considered a number of targets in Northeast Ohio before settling on planting remote-controlled explosives at the base of the Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The bomb turned out to be fake, supplied by a paid-FBI informant. Dettlebach says they made a conscious decision to “commit acts of terrorism” and to plead guilty. The lone defendant remaining in the case – Joshua Stafford – is undergoing a psychological evaluation. He reportedly joined the crew just two days before they tried to detonate the bomb and were arrested on April 30th. He also has a long history of minor arrests in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties.