A 21-year-old Arizona neo-Nazi was sentenced to 16 months in prison on Wednesday for his part in a plot to terrorize black and Jewish journalists, federal prosecutors said.
Johnny Roman Garza — a member of the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division — admitted in September that he conspired with three others to identify and threaten reporters whose work exposed anti-Semitism.
“While this defendant did not hatch this disturbing plot, he enthusiastically embraced it, researching addresses for journalists and those who oppose hate in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.
On the night Jan. 25 in Phoenix, Garza placed a poster on the bedroom window of an editor at local Jewish magazine, depicting a figure in a skull mask holding a Molotov cocktail in front of a burning home.
“Your actions have consequences. Our patience has its limits … You have been visited by your local Nazis,” the poster read.
Garza pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to mail threatening communications, to commit cyberstalking and to interfere with a federally protected activity.
He had faced up to five years in prison.
Ahead of his sentencing, Garza expressed remorse for his actions, saying he was “in a time of darkness and isolation” that made it easier for ”rebellious and resentful” influences to take hold of his life.
“Very unfortunately, I fell in with the worst crowd you can probably fall in with, a very self-destructive crowd at the least,” he told U.S. District Judge John Coughenour.
The judge said he believed Garza to be genuinely sorry, and that he’d also factored the man’s “turbulent childhood” into his decision to depart from sentencing guidelines.
Coughenour said it had been “troubling” to see officials at “the highest levels of our government” call journalists “enemies of the people.”
“Referring to journalism and the press and media as ‘fake news’ enables people who are vulnerable to suggestions like this, very young people… that this kind of conduct is appropriate,” he said.
Three others have been charged in the plot, including Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe of Florida, who pleaded guilty to related charges and will be sentenced in February.
Trials for Cameron Brandon Shea, of Washington, and Kaleb Cole, of Texas, are set to begin in March.
More than a dozen people linked to Atomwaffen or an offshoot called Feuerkrieg Division have been charged in federal court since the group was founded in 2016.
Atomwaffen has been linked to several murders in three states, including the 2018 slaying of gay, Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein in California.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, of the Civil Rights Division, noted that while the U.S. and its allies defeated German Nazis in World War II, “Nazi-inspired threats and violence continue to plague this nation and others” 75 years later.
With Post wires