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What you need to know for 10/21/2017

Death ray suspect indicted

Death ray suspect indicted

Glendon Scott Crawford faces at least 25 years in prison on a federal indictment accusing him of dev
Death ray suspect indicted
Glendon Scott Crawford, of Providence, left photo, and Eric J. Feight, of Hudson, right photo, being led out of the James T. Foley Federal Courthouse in Albany following a bail hearing the day after being charged in conspiracy to provide material suppo...
Photographer: Patrick Dodson

Glendon Scott Crawford faces at least 25 years in prison on a federal indictment accusing him of devising a truck-mounted, remotely-operated device he planned to use to deliver lethal doses of radiation at a mosque in Albany and an Islamic center in Schenectady.

The indictment handed up in U.S. District Court on Thursday accuses the 49-year-old former General Electric Co. industrial mechanic of attempting to construct a remote-activated X-ray system for the purpose of causing serious injury or death. Crawford is also accused of conspiring to use the weapon of mass destruction in Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Albany counties between April 2012 and June 18, 2013— the day of his arrest.

Crawford’s co-defendant, 54-year-old Eric Feight, was not named in the indictment, and attempts to reach his attorney were unsuccessful. A source familiar with the case indicated Feight has struck a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, but an assistant prosecutor working on the case declined to acknowledge whether a deal has been struck.

“We’re not going to comment on that at this time,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan said Friday.

The most serious charge against Crawford — attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device — carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. Previously, he faced as much as 15 years on a single felony count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists

Both men have remained jailed without bail since their arrests.

Crawford, who lives in the Saratoga County town of Providence, is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday. Kevin Luibrand, Crawford’s defense attorney, declined to comment.

In the criminal complaint filed in June, federal investigators described Crawford as a man driven by his hatred for Muslims and with a relentless pursuit to silently harm them from afar. They described him as a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who was on the verge of creating a weapon that would have allowed him to act on his deep-seated hatred.

Crawford walked into the Congregation Gates of Heaven temple in Schenectady in April 2012, claiming he had a weapon to help the Jewish people solve their problems in Israel. He had a similar conversation with staff at the Jewish Federation of Northeast New York, prompting the organization’s director of community relations to contact authorities.

Crawford met with a confidential FBI source in Scotia several months later, according to the complaint. He identified the Muslim community as his targets and described the device he sought to build as “Hiroshima on a light switch” that would kill “everything with respiration” by the next morning.

Later in 2012, he began lobbying a high-ranking member of a Klan organization in North Carolina to get funding for his device, the criminal complaint states. The ranking Klan member told authorities about Crawford’s plot, which allowed federal agents to pose as potential co-conspirators.

FBI investigators tracked Crawford through his contact with undercover agents posing as people sympathetic to his cause and others who assisted him over the course of 14 months. They claim Crawford and Feight were able to draw up a schematic and assemble parts to create a system that would have caused injury at a minimum, perhaps even death.

Crawford even selected several targets where the lethal device could be activated. Last summer, he brought undercover agents to sites in Albany and Schenectady where he suggested it could be deployed to harm Muslims.

Crawford was taken into custody inside a vacant garage that once housed Shorty’s Auto Body in Schaghticoke just as he was powering up the X-ray device. Feight was arrested a short time later.

Their defense attorneys have described the men as tinkerers with no educational background to create a functional X-ray device capable of causing injury. Some radiation safety experts have also dismissed the notion of the lethal device as pure science fiction.

But federal prosecutors insist the plan Crawford devised would have worked, had he not been kept on a short leash over the course of the investigation.

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