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Innocent Pleas in Bridge Plot

May 8, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

CLEVELAND (AP) - Five men described by the government as self-proclaimed anarchists entered innocent pleas Monday to charges that accuse them of plotting to bomb a highway bridge near Cleveland.

The five will remain in jail until their next hearing, a federal magistrate said. A detention hearing scheduled for Monday was postponed.

The men were arrested last week when they allegedly tried to detonate what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI undercover informant.

Article Photos

AP Photo
Brelin Stevens, the sister of Connor Stevens, talks after her brother and four other men charged in a plot to blow up a bridge appeared before a federal magistrate in Cleveland on Monday.

The five had been associated with Occupy Cleveland, but organizers of the movement have tried to distance the group from the men. They say the five didn't represent it or its non-violent philosophy.

The men were indicted last week on three counts each, including a charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction to destroy property in interstate commerce.

Those charged, all in jail, are Douglas L. Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of nearby Lakewood; Connor C. Stevens, 20, of suburban Berea; and Joshua S. Stafford, 23, and Anthony Hayne, 35, both of Cleveland.

One defense attorney called it a case of entrapment, with the informant guiding the way. Stafford's lawyer told U.S. Magistrate Greg White on Monday that his client had been duped and asked that the charges be dismissed, The Plain Dealer reported.

The men could face life in prison if convicted of trying to bomb the soaring bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at Brecksville, south of Cleveland. The bridge crosses a scenic railway line and a canal tow path popular with joggers and bikers.

The men allegedly acted out of anger against corporate America and the government, authorities said. They considered blowing up the bridge at night or clearing it of traffic by pretending to be a construction crew to limit casualties, authorities said in court papers.

 
 

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