Crawford draws 30-year sentence in ‘death ray’ case
Former GE mechanic tries to appeal term in court Monday
Steven Cook | December 19, 2016
ALBANY — A former General Electric industrial mechanic was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday for his role in a plot to deploy an X-ray device against local Muslims.
Judge Gary L. Sharpe imposed the prison term on Glendon Scott Crawford, 52, even as Crawford tried to appeal the sentence in court Monday.
Sharpe cut Crawford off after multiple warnings. He called the case bizarre and called Crawford himself bizarre.
But the judge also noted the seriousness of the case, saying that, had Crawford succeeded, he would have been a mass murderer.
“It’s not up to you to decide who lives and who dies,” Sharpe said.
In Crawford’s comments, he attempted to argue the X-ray device he was convicted of creating didn’t fit a statute designed for nuclear weapons.
He also complained about his trial attorney and argued he never intended to use the device.
He even gave his own perception of the history of the radiation statute. He offered no apology.
U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian, speaking afterward, said Crawford appeared unfazed in court by what he had done.
“He didn’t seem to show any remorse whatsoever,” Hartunian said. “I think it’s clear to me that a person like this presents the ultimate danger to America. He is the classic domestic terrorist and he deserves to be in jail for 30 years.”
Crawford, of Providence, was convicted last year of attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The federal jury convicted Crawford after three hours of deliberation. He had faced up to life in prison.
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. The investigation began in 2012 and ended with Crawford’s arrest in June 2013.
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.
In its sentencing memorandum, filed ahead of Monday’s 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.
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.
Attorney Danielle Neroni represented Crawford Monday, though attorney Kevin Luibrand represented him at trial.
Neroni argued in her sentencing memorandum that Crawford should receive a sentence similar to his co-defendant, 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.
In court Monday, Neroni argued that Crawford never intended to use the device and that Crawford offered the idea; the government, in its undercover operation, offered the means.
Crawford focused on the legal issues he believed led him to be wrongfully convicted.
“These people knew the difference between a dirty bomb and an X-ray,” Crawford told the court, but they chose to wrongfully convict him under the dirty bomb statute anyway.
Crawford also downplayed his role, calling himself “an adviser.” Prosecutors pointed to the lengthy undercover record of Crawford’s words, saying they spoke for themselves.
Crawford continued to try to argue issues related to his conviction. Sharpe repeatedly told him such issues should be taken up on appeal. The jury convicted Crawford, and Sharpe was there to impose sentence.
Crawford, Sharpe said, couldn’t offer in his statements “one reason why I shouldn’t throw the book at you.”
“You can’t come to grips with who and what you are,” Sharpe told Crawford. Sharpe also sentenced Crawford to a lifetime of supervision, should he ever be released.