Life sentence possible in X-ray terror case

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Glendon Scott Crawford faces federal judge in Albany who will sentence him for plotting to build a radiation device he intended to use to kill Muslims

ALBANY — Glendon Scott Crawford, the Ku Klux Klan member who plotted to use a mobile radiation-spewing device to annihilate Muslims in the Capital Region, faces a possible life term Monday at his sentencing in U.S. District Court.

Crawford, 52, of Providence in Saratoga County, a former mechanic at General Electric in Schenectady, will be sentenced by Senior Judge Gary Sharpe at 10:30 a.m. U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian, whose office prosecuted the case, is expected to hold a news conference afterward.

Sixteen months ago, a federal jury deliberated for less than three hours before making Crawford the first person in America convicted of attempting to produce or use a radiological dispersal device, a 2004 federal law which Congress enacted to protect the country from terrorists using a “dirty bomb.”

Jurors watched seven hours of FBI surveillance video in which the brazen Crawford — a self-described cross between Darth Vader and Forrest Gump — excitedly talked about attacking the Executive Mansion in Albany, the White House and local Muslim institutions such as the Masjid As Salaam mosque on Central Avenue in Albany and Masjid e-Nabvi Islamic Center in Schenectady.

And Crawford, a married father of three children, planned to hit a school at the Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie. Surveiilance showed Crawdford repeatedly refer to Muslims as “medical waste” he believed needed to be “sterilized.” At one point, Crawford asked, “What could be sweeter than a big stack of smelly bodies?”

Crawford also said he believed President Barack Obama “sold us out to the Muslim world” and “should be hung” for treason.

Crawford’s undoing came when he shared his diabolical schemes with would-be coconspirators who were actually undercover federal agents. Crawford unwittingly showed them Google maps of his targets for the weapon.

“All of this activity was driven by his intense hatred,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Green and Richard Belliss wrote in a pre-sentencing recommendation to the judge. “Hatred for Muslims and other groups who he despised and blamed for ruining his country, and utter contempt for government that in his view not only let it happen, but made it happen. Crawford’s intense hatred fueled his actions and plot, and never diminished or caused him to hesitate about killing other Americans. To the contrary. He reveled in it.”

The prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Crawford to life in federal prison, calling it “the only sentence sufficient to ensure public safety, provide adequate deterrence to others, and appropriately address such extreme, dangerous, and depraved conduct.”

Danielle Neroni, who began representing Crawford after his conviction, asked the judge to sentence Crawford to a similar term as Eric Feight, Crawford’s codefendant in the case. Feight, of Stockport in Columbia County, made a remote control to set off the device. Last December, Sharpe sentenced Feight, who pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists, to eight years and one month in prison. Feight, now 58, and serving time at a medium security federal prison in Allenwood, Pa. could have received 15 years in prison.

“Mr. Crawford understands the seriousness of the offenses, but he steadfastly maintains his innocence for the crimes for which he has been convicted,” Neroni said in a pre-sentencing memo to the judge. “Mr. Crawford has never had and continues to have nothing but respect for the law. He has never had contact with the law and has otherwise always led a law abiding life.”

Crawford’s road to infamy began n April 2012 when he approached the most unlikely of would-be allies for a Klansman: Congregation Gates of Heaven, a synagogue in Schenectady, and the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York on Washington Avenue in Albany. Crawford pitched a plan to “help Jews get rid of their enemies” and hoped the groups would financially support his plans to build the radiation weapon.

Instead, they went to police and it set the stage for an undercover investigation and dragnet.

An FBI informant named “Dan Matthews” posed as a white supremacist and an FBI undercover agent known by the name “Jeff” befriended Crawford pretended to show interest in Crawford’s plot. Crawford met with both men, usually at Ming’s Flavor Chinese restaurant in Scotia, where, among other statements, Crawford said he could hide the radiation weapon in a van marked as “Halal meat,” his reference to food eaten by Muslims.

The pair met with Crawford in a Schenectady hotel room where Crawford looked over small tubes for a would-be weapon, but he was not satisfied.

That July, Crawford called a Ku Klux Klan hotline to reach out to Chris Barker, an imperial wizard in the KKK in North Carolina. Barker, who was facing unrelated criminal charges, decided to work for the FBI to nab Crawford. He introduced an unsuspecting Crawford to two more undercover agents, who posed as Klan-associated rock quarry businessmen with the financial means to fund the weapon.

The agents — “Mark” and “Mike” — agreed to support Crawford’s plan after meeting with him on Oct. 4, 2012 in a Greensboro, N.C. hotel. On Nov. 14, 2012, the agents met with Crawford in the now-closed J. Watts Barista House in Scotia, where Crawford introduced them to Feight, whom Crawford called his “software guy.”

At that meeting, Crawford said he would refer to himself “Dmitri,” Feight would be “Yoda,” and the undercover agents would use the names “Daddy Warbucks” and “Robin Hood.” And the weapon became “the baby.”

A remote control, made to set off the weapon from a safe distance, was put together by Feight. He who gave it to Crawford and then dropped out of the plan.

On June 18, 2013, Crawford and the agents met in a Schaghticoke warehouse where the device was being kept. Crawford gave the agents the remote control. Moments later, a swarm of SWAT team officers stormed the warehouse and arrested Crawford. They arrested Feight at his home.

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