New York man sentenced to eight years in prison in 'death ray' plot


By Frank McGurty

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An upstate New York man was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for his role in a plot to build a radiation-emitting "death ray" intended to harm Muslims targets and President Barack Obama, federal authorities said on Wednesday.

Eric Feight, 55, of Hudson, pleaded guilty in January to a federal charge of providing material support to terrorists. He admitted to helping Glendon Scott Crawford, a self-proclaimed Ku Klux Klansman, in modifying an industrial-grade radiation device, which tabloid newspapers dubbed a "death ray," and building a switch to operate it from a distance.

“The sentence today highlights both the dangers we face when hatred and bigotry beget domestic terrorism and violent extremism, and our commitment to holding those who commit such crimes accountable,” said Richard S. Hartunian, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York. 

“No American – of any background – should have to live in fear of this kind of attack," he said a statement announcing the 97-month sentence handed down in federal court in Albany.

The sentencing comes amid a rash of suspected hate crimes and threats against Muslim targets that has followed a deadly attack at a holiday party in California by a married couple who authorities say were inspired by the militant Islamic State.

Feight, who faced up to 15 years in prison, was arrested along with Crawford in 2013 and charged in the plot to unleash radiation at a mosque in Albany and a Muslim school in nearby Colonie.

They also planned to attack the White House, according to a recording of their May 2012 conversation played at the trial, in which Crawford called the remote-controlled device “Hiroshima on a light switch.”

Prosecutors described Crawford, 51, a former General Electric industrial engineer from Galway, as the mastermind of the plot. He was convicted in August of using a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to build a radiological dispersal device and a third charge.

Crawford had traveled to North Carolina to discuss funding his project with a Klan leader who turned out to be cooperating with the FBI.

The white supremacist KKK is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Crawford faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life in prison and a $2 million fine for the radiological dispersal device charge, and up to life in prison for the weapon of mass destruction charge. He is awaiting sentencing.

(Additional reporting by T.G. Branfalt Jr. in Albany; Editing by Leslie Adler)


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