ALBANY, N.Y (Reuters) - A New York white supremacist was convicted by a federal jury on Friday of plotting to use a remote-controlled radiation device he called “Hiroshima on a light switch” to harm Muslims and President Barack Obama.
After less than three hours of deliberation in U.S. District Court in Albany, New York, the jury unanimously found Glendon Scott Crawford guilty of all three charges against him.
Crawford, 51, wearing a gray suit and eyeglasses, showed no emotion as Judge Gary Sharpe read the verdict.
He was convicted of use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to build and use a radiological dispersal device. He was also convicted of distributing information with respect to a weapon of mass destruction.
“Glendon Scott Crawford was a terrorist who attempted to acquire a weapon of mass destruction and to use it to kill innocent members of the Muslim community,” said Richard Hartunian, United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York.
Hartunian credited the public with giving tips to law enforcement that led to an investigation of Crawford.
At his sentencing on Dec. 15, Crawford faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life in prison and a $2 million fine for the radiological dispersal device charge, up to life in prison for the weapon of mass destruction charge and up to 20 years in prison for the distribution of information charge.
In the trial’s closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss said the scheme was “very real, very viable and very deadly.”
Crawford, 51, is a Ku Klux Klan member from Galway. The KKK is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an American hate group.
Summing up the five-day trial, Belliss played videotapes in which Crawford said he planned for decades to create the device and unleash it on his enemies - Muslims and the White House. Belliss said one target was “a certain liberal politician” who Crawford said was in the White House.
Defense lawyer Kevin Luibrand told jurors that Crawford had been entrapped by the government, and he blamed undercover Federal Bureau of Investigations agents for creating the device.
In his closing argument, Luibrand said if “Crawford is guilty of anything, it is proliferating information” but said the government was responsible for creating what the media dubbed the “death ray” machine.
Crawford went to North Carolina to discuss funding his project with Chris Barker, KKK Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights, who turned out to be cooperating with the FBI.
Belliss held up a glass-enclosed metal “X-ray tube” that he said was similar to the device, saying it was proof that Crawford did “more than hand out pamphlets.”
Luibrand also played several video clips of meetings between two undercover FBI agents and Crawford, who admitted he did not have the technical knowledge to make or operate such a device.
“The government is not allowed to encourage someone to commit a crime,” Luibrand said.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Laila Kearney; Editing by Bernard Orr, Toni Reinhold