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2016 November 15 Daily Gazette

Prosecutors: Crawford should spend life in prison for X-ray case

By Steven Cook November 15, 2016

ALBANY — A former General Electric industrial mechanic convicted last year in a hate-fueled plot to deploy an X-ray device against local Muslims should spend the rest of his life in prison, federal prosecutors argued in a new court filing.

The man’s defense attorney argued for a prison term of as little as eight years, comparing his case to that of a co-defendant and arguing he never intended to use the device and never actually possessed it.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 50, of Providence, is to be sentenced Dec. 5, after a federal jury convicted him of attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

In its sentencing memorandum filed ahead of the long-delayed proceedings, prosecutors outlined Crawford’s actions and deeds, frequently using his own secretly recorded words.

Crawford referred to his targets as “human waste,” articulated his plan to murder Muslims and others “by the neighborhoods full,” and selected multiple Capital Region targets that included an Islamic center that housed a school for children, prosecutors argued.

“There are often facts and circumstances that mitigate, in some form and to some degree, even the most serious offenses,” assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen C. Green and Richard D. Belliss wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “This is not one of those cases.”

The federal jury convicted Crawford in August 2015 after three hours of deliberation.

Investigators built the case on dozens of hours of secretly recorded conversations between Crawford and individuals he believed were helping him. They were actually either undercover FBI agents or people working with the FBI.

Crawford hoped to radiate people secretly and remotely, placing a device in a van and parking it in front of his target sites, according to the trial evidence.

“Radiation poisoning is a beautiful thing,” he said at one point early in the investigation. He also professed membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

The recordings captured Crawford spouting a racist agenda deriding President Obama and verbally attacking Muslims.

The recordings also showed Crawford plotting to use his X-ray weapon, either by pointing out targets in person or discussing the feasibility of using the weapon against those targets. Among Crawford’s other mentioned targets: the governor’s mansion in Albany and the White House.

Crawford’s sentencing has been pushed off multiple times since his conviction, most notably by a change of defense attorneys. Kevin Luibrand represented him at trial. Danielle Neroni is representing Crawford at sentencing.

Both federal prosecutors and the defense filed the sentencing memorandums this week, making their arguments ahead of next month’s sentencing.

Judge Gary Sharpe is to hand down Crawford’s term.

In her memorandum, Neroni questioned the convictions, arguing Crawford’s actions didn’t rise to the level of the crimes charged. Crawford, she wrote, maintains he never intended to use the device and never actually possessed it.

As for the defense sentencing recommendation, Neroni argued that Crawford should receive a sentence similar to his codefendant, Hudson resident Eric Feight. Feight received a sentence of just over eight years after he pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists. He faced a maximum possible sentence of 15 years.

Neroni argued Crawford made no modifications to the device, while Feight created a remote control that could have been used.

“Mr. Crawford has no history of any criminal behavior, and he has lived nothing but an ordinary life, working and taking care of his family,” Neroni wrote. “There is no doubt that Mr. Crawford will return to this life.”

Federal prosecutors argued for several sentencing enhancements, including a terrorism-related clause, saying Crawford intended to influence government policy by killing American citizens.

Prosecutors cited two secretly recorded exchanges specifically. In one, Crawford talks about the government “giving away the store. ... And, you know what? When these people start dropping dead by the neighborhoods full, OK, the message will get out.”

In the other prosecutor-highlighted exchange, Crawford talked about what he wanted.

“I don’t want money. I want my country back. And you know what? After this last election, the electoral process is dead,” he said.

That exchange concluded with Crawford adding, “OK, so now all that’s left is to make the (expletives) pay.”

Crawford’s statements, prosecutors contend, make clear that he blamed government policies and actions he perceived as favoring Muslims for “negatively and fundamentally transforming his country,” prosecutors wrote.

“Crawford’s intense hatred fueled his actions and plot and never diminished or caused him to hesitate about killing other Americans,” prosecutors wrote. “To the contrary. He reveled in it.”

The federal investigation began after Crawford unsuccessfully tried in April 2012 to get others to help him locally, describing what he was trying to build as “Hiroshima on a light switch,” that would kill “everything with respiration” by the next morning.

As part of the FBI-led sting, he met with undercover agents posing as people sympathetic to his cause.

The operation went on for 14 months. He and Feight drew up schematics for the system, prosecutors claimed, and Crawford selected the potential targets.

Crawford was taken into custody in June 2013 inside a vacant garage that once housed Shorty’s Auto Body in Schaghticoke, just as he was powering up the X-ray device. Unbeknownst to him, investigators had rendered the device harmless. They arrested Feight a short time later.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.