ALBANY — A federal court judge handed a 30-year prison sentence to Glendon Scott Crawford, the Ku Klux Klan member who plotted to use a mobile radiation-spewing device to annihilate Muslims in the Capital Region.
Senior Judge Gary Sharpe imposed the sentence Monday after Crawford, 52, delivered a rambling statement about physics and government statutes. The judge cut off Crawford’s physics lesson and told him to speak about what he believes his sentence should be.
“You can’t come to grips with who and what you are,” the judge told the Providence, Saratoga County, man.
The judge also dismissed Crawford’s request to discuss the evidence used in his case. “No, you may not. These things are beyond the clear scope of what we’re here for,” the judge said.
Crawford is a former mechanic at General Electric in Schenectady.
Sixteen months ago, a federal jury 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, a 2004 federal law that Congress enacted 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.”
At one point, Crawford asked, “What could be sweeter than a big stack of smelly bodies?”
Crawford also said he believed President Barack Obama “sold us out to the Muslim world” and “should be hung” for treason.
Crawford’s undoing came when he shared his diabolical schemes with would-be coconspirators who were actually undercover federal agents. Crawford unwittingly showed them Google maps of his targets for the weapon.
“All of this activity was driven by his intense hatred,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Green and Richard Belliss wrote in a pre-sentencing recommendation to the judge. “Hatred for Muslims and other groups who he despised and blamed for ruining his country, and utter contempt for government that in his view not only let it happen, but made it happen. Crawford’s intense hatred fueled his actions and plot, and never diminished or caused him to hesitate about killing other Americans. To the contrary. He reveled in it.”
The prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Crawford to life in federal prison, calling it “the only sentence sufficient to ensure public safety, provide adequate deterrence to others, and appropriately address such extreme, dangerous, and depraved conduct.”
Feight, of Stockport in Columbia County, made a remote control to set off the device. A year ago, Sharpe sentenced Feight, who pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists, to 8 years and 1 month in prison. Feight, now 58, and serving time at a medium-security federal prison in Allenwood, Pa., could have received 15 years in prison.
“Mr. Crawford understands the seriousness of the offenses, but he steadfastly maintains his innocence for the crimes for which he has been convicted,” Neroni said in a pre-sentencing memo to the judge. “Mr. Crawford has never had and continues to have nothing but respect for the law. He has never had contact with the law and has otherwise always led a law abiding life.”
Crawford’s road to infamy began in April 2012 when he approached the most unlikely of would-be allies for a Klansman: Congregation Gates of Heaven, a synagogue in Schenectady, and the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York on Washington Avenue in Albany.
Crawford pitched a plan to “help Jews get rid of their enemies” and hoped the groups would financially support his plans to build the radiation weapon.
Instead, they went to police, setting the stage for an undercover investigation and dragnet.
An FBI informant named “Dan Matthews” posed as a white supremacist and an FBI undercover agent known by the name “Jeff” befriended Crawford, pretending to show interest in Crawford’s plot.
Crawford met with both men, usually at Ming’s Flavor Chinese restaurant in Scotia, where, among other statements, Crawford said he could hide the radiation weapon in a van marked as “Halal meat,” his reference to food eaten by Muslims.
The pair met with Crawford in a Schenectady hotel room where Crawford looked over small tubes for a would-be weapon, but he was not satisfied.
That July, Crawford called a Ku Klux Klan hotline to reach out to Chris Barker, an imperial KKK wizard in North Carolina. Barker, who was facing unrelated criminal charges, decided to work for the FBI to nab Crawford. He introduced an unsuspecting Crawford to two more undercover agents, who posed as Klan-associated rock quarry businessmen with the financial means to fund the weapon.
The agents — “Mark” and “Mike” — agreed to support Crawford’s plan after meeting with him on Oct. 4, 2012, in a Greensboro, N.C., hotel. On Nov. 14, 2012, the agents met with Crawford in the now-closed J. Watts Barista House in Scotia, where Crawford introduced them to Feight, whom Crawford called his “software guy.”
At that meeting, Crawford said he would refer to himself “Dmitri,” Feight would be “Yoda,” and the undercover agents would use the names “Daddy Warbucks” and “Robin Hood.” The weapon became “the baby.”
Feight put together a remote control, made to set off the weapon from a safe distance. He gave it to Crawford, then dropped out of the plan.
On June 18, 2013, Crawford and the agents met in a Schaghticoke warehouse where the device was being kept. Crawford gave the agents the remote control. Moments later, a swarm of SWAT team officers stormed the warehouse and arrested Crawford.
They arrested Feight at his home.