A federal judge has ruled that three men who pleaded guilty in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Northeast Ohio should be sentenced as terrorists.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr., which was released Wednesday by his office in Akron, upheld a government request to impose stricter sentences based on a “terrorist enhancement” for the young defendants, all in their 20s.
Dowd’s ruling that the three were trying to intimidate the government expands their possible sentences from five or six years to 15 to 30 years or more.
The judge will sentence co-conspirators Connor C. Stephens of Berea, Brandon L. Baxter of Lakewood and Douglas L. Wright of Indianapolis at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
In Dowd’s 36-page written decision, he computed Wright’s terrorist-enhanced sentence in a range of about 27 to 34 years, Baxter’s in a range of about 22 to 27 years, and the sentence of Stephens, who was found to be “a minor participant,” according to Dowd, in a range of about 16 to 20.
A fourth man who pleaded guilty first and agreed to testify against the others in return for leniency will be sentenced Wednesday in Dowd’s court.
The fifth defendant is undergoing a psychiatric exam.
The bridge, a sprawling structure more than 1,100 feet long, stands on national park grounds between Summit and Cuyahoga counties.