Judge gives 30-year sentence to Crawford in death-ray case
Glendon Scott Crawford faces federal judge in Albany who will sentence him for plotting to build a radiation device he intended to use to kill Muslims
By Robert Gavin Updated 10:00 pm, Monday, December 19, 2016
A domestic terrorist from Saratoga County who plotted to use deadly radiation on Muslims in the Capital Region was sentenced Monday to 30 years in federal prison, but not before he delivered a rambling speech about physics, federal statutes and the fall of the Soviet Union.
Glendon Scott Crawford, 52, showed no remorse in U.S. District Court for his ghastly goal to use a mobile radiation-spewing device that could be hidden in a truck and set off by remote control. The defiant Crawford, an admitted member of the Ku Klux Klan, instead tried to convince Senior Judge Gary Sharpe he was wrongly convicted and only provided “technical assistance” to the plot — an argument Crawford immediately lost.
“You can’t come to grips with who and what you are,” the judge told the Providence man, a former mechanic at General Electric in Schenectady. “It’s not up to you to be deciding who lives, who dies.”
Sharpe, who spared Crawford a life sentence, told the defendant: “I don’t know, if left to your volition, you could have created the device or not ... it would have made you a mass murderer.”
In August 2015, federal jurors deliberated for less than three hours before making Crawford the first person in the United States convicted of attempting to produce or use a radiological dispersal device. Congress enacted the law in 2004 to protect the country from terrorists using a “dirty bomb.”
Jurors watched seven hours of FBI surveillance video in which the brazen Crawford — a self-described cross between Darth Vader and Forrest Gump — excitedly talked about attacking the Executive Mansion in Albany, the White House and local Muslim institutions such as the Masjid As Salaam mosque on Central Avenue in Albany and Masjid e-Nabvi Islamic Center in Schenectady.
And Crawford, a married father of three children, planned to hit a school at the Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie.
Surveillance footage showed Crawford repeatedly refer to Muslims as “medical waste” he believed needed to be “sterilized.”
When offered a chance to speak Monday, Crawford highlighted the collapse of the Soviet Union and name-dropped several codes of federal law in an attempt to convince the judge that he was wrongly convicted of a law intended to stop those who would build a nuclear device. He claimed the indictment against him was fatally defective.
“An X-ray machine is an emitter,” Crawford told the judge. “It functions by an entirely different technology.”
The judge allowed Crawford to lecture him at length, but grew frustrated when the defendant continued to speak about physics and refused to address what sentence he believed he should receive, which was supposed to be the focus. When Crawford asked Sharpe if he could discuss the evidence used in the case, Sharpe said, “No, you may not. These things are beyond the clear scope of what we are here for.”
The judge eventually gave Crawford three minutes to finish speaking, then said time was up.
“You’re done, Mr. Crawford, you’re done,” Sharpe said.
Turning to the case, the judge said, “The conduct is bizarre. You are bizarre. Everything I heard on the tapes is bizarre.”
On the surveillance tapes, Crawford referred to his weapon as “Hiroshima on a light switch” and asked, “What could be sweeter than a big stack of smelly bodies?”
Crawford said he believed President Barack Obama “sold us out to the Muslim world” and “should be hung” for treason.
On Monday, Crawford told the judge he believed the case came “from the President’s desk.”
Crawford’s undoing came when he shared his schemes with would-be coconspirators who were actually undercover federal agents. Crawford unwittingly showed them maps of his targets for the weapon.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Green and Richard Belliss asked the judge to impose a life sentence.
Danielle Neroni, who began representing Crawford after his conviction, asked for a term similar to Eric Feight, Crawford’s codefendant, who made the remote control to set off the device. Feight, of Stockport in Columbia County, pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists. Sharpe sentenced him to eight years and one month in prison. He could have received 15 years.
Feight, 58, is serving at a medium-security federal prison in Allenwood, Pa.
Neroni said her client did not plan to use the weapon.
“As you heard today in court, Glendon Crawford expressed no remorse for his crimes,” U.S, Attorney Richard Hartunian later told reporters, joined by Green and Belliss and Andrew Vale, the special agent-in-charge of the Albany FBI. “He said the laws didn’t apply to him. But the court found otherwise. It was clear that the judge, having listened to the trial testimony, understood that the defendant intended to harm people, to kill others using a weapon of mass destruction.”