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Press Release

Florida Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Hate Crime for Conspiring to Attack Florida Synagogue

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

James Gonzalo Medina was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for attempting to attack an Aventura, Florida synagogue, and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.


Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.


            During the plea proceedings, Medina admitted that in March and April 2016, he planned to conduct a firearms or explosives attack on the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. Medina took steps to prepare for this attack including conducting surveillance of the Jewish Center. On April 29, 2016, Medina took possession of what he believed to be an explosive device, obtained from a Southern Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force agent, and approached the Jewish Center on foot with the device in hand, intending to commit the attack.

            “The defendant’s concrete steps to commit an act of domestic terror against a place of worship because of the congregants’ religious beliefs posed a grave threat to all residents of Miami-Dade County,” said Acting United States Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will investigate and prosecute terrorism and hate-inspired violent crimes motivated by a victim’s religion, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, or gender identity.”

“Medina wanted to kill innocent people by detonating an explosive device at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, but was denied his terroristic goals by the dedicated professionals of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “We remain committed in our steadfast efforts to detect, deter and disrupt every threat to the United States.”

            Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Southern Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marc Anton and Michael Thakur, with the assistance of the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Counsel Steve Curran and National Security Division’s Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

Updated November 28, 2017