Man pleads guilty in plot to detonate ohio bridge
Anthony M. Hayne pleaded guilty today to three counts for his role in a conspiracy to use explosives to destroy a bridge near Cleveland, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Hayne, 35, of Cleveland pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David Dowd. Those counts are: 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.
"We are satisfied with today’s guilty plea and are prepared to prove the allegations against the remaining defendants," Dettelbach said.
"We are pleased by the admission of guilt entered by Anthony Hayne this morning," Anthony said. "By entering this plea of guilty, Mr. Hayne has taken responsibility for his intent to use explosives to express his ideological views. The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to work diligently every day to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international."
Hayne was arrested on April 30 with Douglas L. Wright, Brandon L. Baxter, Connor C. Stevens and Joshua S. Stafford.
According to court documents, Wright, Baxter, Hayne, Stevens and Stafford are self-proclaimed anarchists who formed into a small group and considered a series of evolving plots over several months.
The initial plot involved the use of smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, according to the complaint.
The plot later developed to the utilization of explosive materials. The defendants conspired to obtain C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices to be placed and remotely detonated, according to the complaint.
The defendants discussed various bridges and physical targets in and around the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area over the course of several months. The final plan resulted in the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge being the designated target. This bridge crosses from Brecksville, Ohio to Sagamore Hills, Ohio over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to the complaint.
The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by an undercover FBI employee. The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement. The explosives that the defendants allegedly purchased and attempted to use were inoperable and posed no threat to the public.
Wright, Baxter, Stevens and Stafford are scheduled to stand trial Sept. 17 in U.S. District court in Akron.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Duncan T. Brown, Justin E. Herdman and Thomas E. Getz following an investigation by the FBI and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Agencies represented on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force include: Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Air Marshal Service, Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Heights Police Department, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Intelligence, Westlake Police Department, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, RTA Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Shaker Heights Police Department, North Olmstead Police Department, US Postal Inspectors, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Assistance in this case was also provided by the U.S. National Park Service Park Rangers, Sagamore Hills Police Department and Brecksville Police Department, and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.