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Maryland woman pleads guilty to alleged plot to attack Baltimore power plants

A Maryland woman accused of plotting to carry out attacks on several energy substations around Baltimore pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal conspiracy and gun charges, court records show.

Sarah Beth Clendaniel, of Catonsville, was charged last year with conspiring with a founder of the Florida-based neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen to carry out the attacks, in what prosecutors described as a racism-fueled plot aimed at to trigger mass chaos within the majority. Black city.

She initially pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to damage an energy facility. She was later also charged with being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and pleaded guilty to both charges in federal court Tuesday.

“If we can pull off what I hope…it would be legendary,” Clendaniel was quoted in charging documents telling a federal informant about his plot with Brandon Russell to target five substations around Baltimore.

PHOTO: A photo of a person believed to be Sarah Clendaniel is included in a Justice Department complaint charging her with conspiring to destroy an energy facility.

A photo of a person believed to be Sarah Clendaniel is included in a Justice Department complaint charging her with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility.

Department of Justice

She further reportedly told a confidential FBI source that she was “determined” to carry out these attacks, adding, “It would probably completely waste this city permanently” if they were successful.

According to plea documents, Clendaniel admitted that if she had carried out the attacks, the total cost of repairs to the energy facilities would have exceeded $100,000.

The guilty plea paves the way for Clendaniel to now cooperate with federal authorities against Russell – who was incarcerated when they first met, following a 2018 conviction related to his possession of a non-destructive device. checked in.

The two men hatched their plot to shoot up the five substations while both were on probation, when Russell began communicating with a confidential FBI source in 2022 about his hopes of attacking nuclear sites. critical infrastructure, according to charging documents.

Russell allegedly told the informant that “putting holes in the transformers…is the best thing anyone can do”, and told the informant that they should carry out an attack “when the strain on the network is the largest” to cause massive disruptions. Russell further told the informant about Clendaniel and his alleged coordination with her to attack an energy facility and proposed connecting the two to coordinate their attacks to “maximize impact.”

PHOTO: A photo of ammunition included in a Justice Department complaint against Sarah Clendaniel.

A photo of ammunition included in a Justice Department complaint against Sarah Clendaniel.

Department of Justice

After meeting with the informant, Clendaniel told them in early 2023 that she expected to die of a terminal illness in a few months and that she hoped to obtain a rifle as soon as possible in order to attack five subs. stations she had chosen around Baltimore — all on the same day.

“(Clendaniel) described how there was a ‘ring’ around Baltimore and if they hit several of them in one day, they would ‘completely destroy this whole city,'” the affidavit states.

Prosecutors agreed they would not recommend that Clendaniel serve more than 18 years in connection with his plea deal, according to court documents, although the judge in his case will ultimately determine the length of his prison sentence.

Russell has pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy charge in the case and is scheduled to go to trial in July.

ABC News

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