Federal Judge Weighs Terrorism Charge Against Men Accused of Plotting Race War

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Federal Judge Theodore D. Chuang has decided to consider adding a “terrorism enhancement” to the prison terms of Patrik Mathews and Brian Lemley Jr., two white supremacists who prosecutors said plotted to carry out deadly violence at a Virginia guns-rights rally last year to provoke what one of them called “a full-blown civil war,” reports the New York Times. While both men have pleaded guilty to to firearms- and immigration-related charges in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., and are awaiting sentencing, Chuang ruled that the two can be sentenced to prison terms that are longer than the normal maximums for their admitted offenses.

However, he seemed skeptical of the 25-year terms recommended by the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland, which would be a significant increase over typical sentences for the crimes to which Mathews and Lemley pleaded guilty. Attorneys for the men argued that their clients should be punished only for the crimes they admitted to, not for ideas they discussed but never carried out. Mathews and Lemley, who are both members of a white supremacist group called “the Base,” were arrested in January 2020, just days before a large-scale gun-rights demonstration at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond. An investigation revealed that the men planned to secretly wreak havoc at the demonstration, hoping that participants would respond with even more mayhem. They also discussed establishing a base camp in the Shenandoah Forest where they could coordinate an eventual overthrow of the government.

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