Three convicted of some charges tied to 2012 Chicago NATO plot

CHICAGO Fri Feb 7, 2014 6:10pm EST

Brian Church (L), 20, Brent Vincent Betterly (C), 24 and Jared Chase, 24, are seen in these handout photos from the Chicago Police department released to Reuters May 19, 2012. REUTERS/Chicago Police/Handout

Brian Church (L), 20, Brent Vincent Betterly (C), 24 and Jared Chase, 24, are seen in these handout photos from the Chicago Police department released to Reuters May 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Chicago Police/Handout

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Three men accused of plotting to attack high-profile targets during a 2012 NATO summit in Chicago were convicted by a jury Friday on mob action and arson charges, but acquitted on terrorism-related charges.

Brian Jacob Church, 22, and Brent Betterly, 25, both of Florida, and Jared Chase, 29, of New Hampshire, had faced seven charges each, including conspiracy to commit terrorism under a state anti-terrorism law adopted after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The men, known by the nickname the "NATO 3," were convicted of two counts each of mob action and two counts of arson. Sentencing was set for February 28.

Jurors began deliberations Thursday and reached a verdict on Friday afternoon.

The case marked the first time Illinois prosecutors invoked the conspiracy charge. A prosecutor said in closing arguments on Thursday that the three defendants were bent on mayhem.

Defense attorneys described the men as drunken braggarts who had talked big to impress undercover officers.

The three were accused of planning attacks during the Chicago meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials using fire bombs, targeting police stations and President Barack Obama's re-election headquarters, along with other locations.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)

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