A man who admitted to providing support in a plot to build a deadly X-ray device was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison Wednesday morning.
Eric Feight, 56, of Hudson, faced up to 15 years in prison for his part in the plot that ended in June 2013 with the arrest of him and the mastermind, Glendon Scott Crawford, a former General Electric industrial mechanic.
Feight admitted to providing a remote-control system that Crawford hoped to use to control the X-ray. Feight’s defense contended the remote control was useless.
Judge Gary Sharpe chose to give Feight a total sentence of eight years and one month. The judge found that he committed serious acts in assisting a plot to construct and build a weapon of mass destruction to kill people.
“You understood what it was that you were doing,” he told Feight, referencing comments Feight made during the undercover operation.
At the same time, Sharpe cited Feight’s history as recounted by the defense. He found a federal sentencing guideline range of 97 to 121 months appropriate, rather than an enhanced range that would have pinned Feight’s sentence to the 15-year maximum.
The sentence came after a lengthy proceeding at which prosecutors asked for the maximum amount of prison time and Feight’s defense asked for a sentence of as little as three years.
Feight pleaded guilty in January 2014 to one federal count of providing material support to terrorists.
In August, a federal court jury convicted Crawford, 49, of Providence, on three counts, including attempting to produce and use a weapon of mass destruction.
Crawford is to be sentenced in March. He faces at least the next 25 years in prison and might never be released.
Feight’s sentencing was delayed for nearly two years as Crawford’s case proceeded.
Crawford wanted to irradiate people secretly and remotely, placing a death-ray device in a van and parking it in front of his target sites, according to testimony at his trial. He also professed membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
Crawford discussed targets that included the White House in Washington, the governor’s mansion in Albany, an Islamic Center on Brandywine Avenue in Schenectady, a mosque in Albany and an Islamic community center and school in Colonie, according to trial testimony.
Feight gave a lengthy statement to the court Wednesday outlining his view of his involvement, including that he only knew Crawford intended to target supposed terrorist cells operating in the United States and he feared for his family once he got involved.
He also tried to explain that the remote-control system he provided wouldn’t have worked with the X-ray device without further work that he refused to do.
But Feight said he also accepted responsibility for his decisions.
“It was wrong, terribly wrong what I did,” Feight said. “I will now have to live with the consequences of my decisions for the rest of my life.”
Feight’s comments came after his attorney Peter Moschetti recounted earlier arguments that his client never knew the real intended targets, and that he met with undercover agents posing as Ku Klux Klan investors once and then feared for his life if he didn’t deliver something.
Prosecutors countered the family fear argument by noting that Feight freely talked about his family late at the first meeting as the group toasted the arrangement. Also, they said if he wanted to back out of the plan, he never took steps to do so by going to law enforcement.
Prosecutors also argued that a remote control that the group sought from Feight was key to an operation that intended to kill innocent human targets.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Stephen C. Green and Richard D. Belliss prosecuted the case.
Moschetti argued that there was never any evidence that Feight belonged to the Klan or any other similar group.
He also argued that Feight’s background meant he could build a working remote control in a week. Instead, Feight dragged his feet for six months and then wouldn’t integrate the control to the device.