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Friday, August 21, 2015

Upstate New York Man Convicted for his Role in Attempting to Develop Lethal Radiation Device

Jury Finds Glendon Scott Crawford Guilty on All Counts Following a Five-Day Trial

A jury convicted Glendon Scott Crawford, 51, of Galway, New York, today after a five-day trial on all charges relating to his efforts to build a weapon of mass destruction.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Albany, New York, Division made the announcement.

Crawford was convicted of attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.  Crawford was also convicted of distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  He also faces a $2 million fine on the attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device charge, and a fine of $250,000 on the other two charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 15, 2015, before Chief U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe of the Northern District of New York.

Crawford is the first person to be found guilty of attempting to construct a radiological dispersal device, a statute Congress passed in 2004.

“Glendon Scott Crawford, a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted of offenses relating to his deadly plan to use a radiological dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to perpetrate attacks on American soil.”

“Crawford is a terrorist motivated by bigotry and hate who would have used a weapon of mass destruction to kill innocent Muslim members of our community were it not for the good judgment of citizens who quickly alerted law enforcement to his diabolical plan and the outstanding work of the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said U.S. Attorney Hartunian.  “This case illustrates how we must remain vigilant to protect our community from would-be terrorists.” 

“Today’s verdict is a testament to the tremendous efforts of our Joint Terrorism Task Force in uncovering Crawford’s plot and the dedication of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in bringing justice to an individual who sought to inflict terror and harm on our innocent citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Vale.  “This verdict is a victory for us all, but we must continue to remain observant; it is only with the assistance of our community members and law enforcement partners that we can be successful in thwarting these violent plots.”

In April 2012, the FBI received information that Crawford, who was employed as an industrial mechanic with General Electric in Schenectady, New York, had approached local Jewish organizations seeking people who might help him develop technology to be used against people whom he perceived to be enemies of Israel.  During a 14-month investigation, the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force learned that Crawford was attempting to solicit funds to purchase, and then weaponize, a commercially available X-ray machine so that it could be used to injure or kill others by exposing them to lethal doses of radiation. 

During the investigation, Crawford, with help from co-conspirator Eric J. Feight, took steps to design, acquire the parts for, build and test a remote initiation device that could have activated the radiation machine, and acquired the X-ray machine that he planned to modify into a weapon of mass destruction.  The X-ray device that he planned to use had been modified so that Crawford could not have used it to hurt anyone. 

Feight pleaded guilty on Jan. 22, 2014, to providing material support to terrorists.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 17, 2015, by Chief Judge Sharpe and faces up to 15 years of imprisonment. 

Crawford, a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, wanted to use the device against Muslims, and he scouted mosques in Albany and Schenectady and an Islamic community center and school in Schenectady as possible targets.  Crawford also suggested the New York governor’s mansion as a potential target.

With undercover agents, Crawford discussed placing the radiological device within a van or truck, parking the vehicle near the entrance to the target location, and then remotely activating the device so that it would direct lethal doses of radiation at people coming in and out of the target location. 

A central feature of Crawford’s completed X-ray device was that its targets would be exposed to dangerous and lethal doses of X-ray radiation without being aware of the exposure, the harmful effects of which would likely not be immediately apparent. 

This case was investigated by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Green and Richard Belliss of the Northern District of New York, and Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.  The Justice Department’s Criminal Division also provided assistance.

Press Release Number: 
Updated August 21, 2015