One down, four left among the five men charged with plotting to blow up the Route 82 bridge linking Sagamore Hills Township and Brecksville.
One of the men accused in an alleged plot to blow up a Northeast Ohio bridge has pleaded guilty to charges.
Defendant Anthony Hayne, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and attempt to destroy a building or structure used in interstate commerce. His sentencing date was not immediately set.
His other four co-defendants still face trial before Akron federal judge David Dowd September 17th. Three want Dowd to suppress statements they made to the FBI and those motions are pending. Dowd has already turned down a change of venue motion to remove the trial from an Akron courtroom.
Still facing charges are Douglas Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Brandon Baxter, 20, of Lakewood; Connor Stephens, 20, of Berea and Joshua Stafford, 23, of Cleveland.
The five were snared by the feds after police say they tried to detonate what turned out to be fake explosives under the Route 82 bridge.
No bond for the five men charged with plotting to blow up the Route 82 bridge spanning the Cuyahoga River between Brecksville and Sagamore Hills Township.
Federal judge David Dowd rejected bids from the five seeking release on bond pending their trials, saying they all posed a flight risk. The quintet are scheduled to go on trial in mid-September.
The five were arrested in late April after what the FBI detailed was a conspiracy to plant plastic explosives at the base of the bridge, leading to efforts to trigger the blasts using a cellular telephone as a remote detonator. The explosives turned out to the bogus, provided by a federal undercover agent.
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(AP) AKRON, Ohio - A federal judge in Akron says five men charged with plotting to bomb a highway bridge must remain locked up pending trial.
The Akron-based judge ruled Tuesday against the suspects' bond request.
The judge says Doug Wright, Josh Stafford, Tony Hayne, Connor Stevens and Brandon Baxter must remain locked up to keep them from fleeing and to protect the public.
The men were arrested in late April when they allegedly tried to detonate what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI undercover informant.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty. One defense attorney called it a case of entrapment, with the informant guiding the way.
They could face life in prison if convicted of trying to bomb the bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park south of Cleveland.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A three-count indictment was filed today against the five people accused of taking part in a plot to detonate the Route 82 bridge near Cleveland.
All five men face identical charges: one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction to destroy property used in interstate commerce, one count of conspiracy to use of a weapon of mass destruction to destroy property used in interstate commerce and one count of attempted use of an explosive device to damage or destroy real property used in interstate commerce.
Indicted are Douglas L. Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of Lakewood, Ohio; Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland; Connor C. Stevens, 20, of Berea, Ohio, and Joshua S. Stafford, of Cleveland.
According to the indictment, the five men conspired between Feb. 20 and April 30, 2012 to use two improvised explosive devices containing C-4 plastic explosives on the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge.
Your morning may have started out as routine: grab some coffee or orange juice, get yourself out the door on the way to work (much less anyone else in the house) and hope you had fuel in the tank and wouldn't need to deal with the price of gasoline. The ride home tonight may be a bit different, especially when looking over the rail on the bridges that span the Cuyahoga, Rocky, Vermillion, Chagrin, Tuscarawas or the hundreds of other rivers, creeks, streams and valleys that crease northeast Ohio.
The federal government provided a glimpse of how terrorism isn't just a problem overseas. It's here at home, thanks to a five-pack of self-described "anarchists" who, at one time or another, talked about blowing up the Detroit-Superior Bridge, the Valley View Bridge, the Cleveland Federal Reserve, ships carrying cargo and themselves before settling on getting what they thought was discount C-4 explosive to take down the Route 82 bridge linking Sagamore Hills Township with Brecksville.
13,000+ vehicles cross that bridge everyday. It passes over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, bikers, runners, scenic trains, deer and eagles. It's not a strategic military target, not even a particularly commercially interesting bridge linking a pair of powerhouse industrial sites. The nearest business to the bridge is the Clippity-Clop Shop where you can buy items for horses, or cowboy shirts and boots. There's a bar nearby, and an art framing gallery. And trees. Lots of trees.
Reading through the U.S. Attorney's criminal complaint in United States of America v Douglas L. Wright is at times ludicrous and chilling.
The government charges three men at the center of the alleged plot. Douglas Wright, aka "Cyco", is 26 and appears to be the hot-headed leader of the pack. Brandon Baxter, 20, aka "Skabby", at one point jokes about strapping on explosives and blowing himself up in the Federal Reserve if he got drunk enough. Anthony Hayne, aka "Tony" or "Billy" met with two others and hatched a scheme to use $900 dollars worth of explosives and remote detonating devices.
They were joined by a confidential informant who first met Wright at "an event" held by a group of anarchists. The FBI was notified and sent their informant to the party in October of last year, where several participants weren't happy the protest crowd wasn't buying into their opinion that violence was better than peaceful disobedience. That led to more meetings and more talk.
Among the items included in the 21-page complaint:
C-4 is one of the explosives of choice, and like most explosives gets it's destructive power as gas rapidly expands. The website HowStuffWorks has an interesting read on C-4 and why it's designed for military purposes. The photo from HowStuffWorks.com, at left, shows the power of the plastic explosive from two charges set off on an airport runway.
There's a healthy debate going on around the country as to whether the trio, and pair of other alleged accomplices, were the victims of an F.B.I. sting and the actions of the informant or undercover agent was more entrapment than investigation. It's a good discussion to have, even while I personally approve of law enforcement gathering intelligence and working undercover. In my mind, it beats what might happen when real C4 and real IED's are used.
We see enough of that already to know they kill. But that's overseas, right? Except for September 11th, it's only something that might happen, right? Even then, we're in Cleveland, for goodness sake.
I take this bridge to work occasionally; my wife and I have walked or biked this path in the National Park hundreds of times. Friends and family take it as a matter of course, thinking only of how pretty it is when the colors ripen in the fall or the first hint of green starts to proclaim spring's here. It's just a means of getting across the valley, from one point to the other. At least, I suspect, that's the way it is for the 13,000 other cars using the bridge on a daily basis.
We live in such a sheltered world. To imagine there aren't those who wish to do us harm, extremists to believe any means justifies the end, has been proven wrong again and again. We walk a tightrope of living in a system that allows us to drift off into a fuzzy innocence, one where we don't think we need informants and undercover agents because they intrude on our privacy. Balanced by the need to remember there are those who wish to do us harm, even though to them we are just nameless and faceless collateral damage.
Balancing our privacy and security is a choice between reactive and proactive, and just how far we are willing to let that pendulum swing in either direction. With a quintet of men we may have walked past in the supermarket before they were arrested standing as a reminder, and the target not the function of what happens thousands of miles away or on a television show but on the very road we travel, what is your answer?
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