An Indiana man faces a likely sentence of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to hate crimes stemming from the arson of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, the Justice Department announced today.
Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., pleaded guilty to three counts: (1) intentionally defacing, damaging and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property; (2) using fire to commit a felony; and (3) using and carrying a firearm to commit a crime of violence.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, both parties recommend a sentence of 20 years in prison.
“The freedom to worship in the manner of one's choosing is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will continue to aggressively prosecute hate-based attacks on houses of worship. I commend the cooperative efforts of local and federal law enforcement officials to ensure justice in this case.”
Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said, “Religious freedom is at the core of our country, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute such hate crimes whenever and wherever the evidence warrants. This was a true joint effort to seek justice for these victims.”
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office, said, “We are pleased that Randall Linn has accepted responsibility for his destructive action of setting fire to a sacred place of worship. The FBI, along with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, remains committed to protecting the rights of all citizens to practice their chosen religion by enforcing the laws that defend those liberties.”
“This guilty plea represents the tireless efforts of so many agencies to bring this case to justice,” said Robin Shoemaker, Special Agent in Charge, Columbus Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Criminal damage to a house of worship is taken very seriously by ATF.”
According to court documents, Linn left his home on Sept. 30, 2012, in a red four-door Chevrolet Sonic. Inside the vehicle were numerous firearms and three gas cans. Linn stopped at a gas station near Perrysburg, Ohio, and filled the three gas cans, then drove to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Linn made numerous efforts to enter the Islamic Center before gaining entry. He walked through several rooms with a handgun in his left hand before exiting and then returning with one of the gas cans. Linn then entered the prayer room on the second floor and poured gasoline on the prayer rug; a large Oriental-style rug used by members of the Islamic Center during prayer services. He then set fire to the prayer rug.
According to court documents, Linn acknowledged that he intentionally set the fire because of the religious character of the Islamic Center property. Linn agreed to pay restitution and understands that the amount may exceed $1 million due to the amount of fire and water damage sustained by the Islamic Center.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bridget M. Brennan, Ava Dustin and Special Assistant U.S Attorney Gwen Howe-Gebers. This case was investigated by the FBI, ATF, Perrysburg Township Police Department and the state of Ohio Fire Marshal.