Two men were sentenced on Friday for conspiring to attack US electric substations in a plot motivated by white supremacy and intended to sow civil unrest and economic distress, the US Justice Department said.
Christopher Cook, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced to 92 months in prison, and Jonathan Frost, 25, of Katy, Texas, and West Lafayette, Indiana, was given 60 months, DOJ said in a press release.
Cook and Frost each pleaded guilty in February 2022 to one count of conspiring to provide material support to extremists. Jackson Sawall of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was also charged and pleaded guilty in February 2022 and will be sentenced at a later date, DOJ said.
How did they plan to attack the electric substations?
Their plan was to attack substations with powerful rifles, which they believed would result in millions of dollars in damages while causing civil unrest, the department said. But they never carried out any attacks.
Plots against power infrastructure and electric substations have come to light recently in different parts of the country including North Carolina, Washington state and South Carolina. Incidents of vandalism have left thousands in the dark.
Frost and Cook hatched their plans in an online chat group in fall 2019, according to DOJ. Within weeks, the two began to recruit others including Sawall.
As part of the recruitment process, Cook circulated a list of readings that promoted white supremacist ideology and neo-Nazism, DOJ said.
It said the three men met in Columbus, Ohio, in February 2020 to train. A planned attack in Ohio was thwarted when police stopped their car in a routine encounter.
Cook and Frost later attempted to recruit juveniles in Texas to their cause, prosecutors said.