White supremacist pleads guilty in plot to blow up Colorado synagogue

White supremacist pleads guilty in plot to blow up Colorado synagogue


By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – A self-described white supremacist pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal hate crime and explosive charges for a botched plot to blow up a historic Colorado synagogue last year, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Richard Holzer, 28, who was arrested in November following an undercover FBI sting, admitted to planning to bomb the Temple Emanuel synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Holzer, who lived in Pueblo, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to obstruct religious services by force, and to one count of trying to destroy a building used in interstate commerce, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.

The temple, built in 1900, is the second oldest synagogue in Colorado and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The actions Holzer admitted in the plea agreement meet the federal definition of domestic terrorism as they involved criminal acts dangerous to human life that were intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population,” U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said in a statement.

The Colorado Office of the Federal Public Defender, which represents Holzer, does not comment publicly on its cases.

Authorities uncovered the plot after FBI agents came across social media postings by Holzer, in which he promoted white supremacy and his hatred for Jewish people, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Undercover FBI agents, posing as like-minded racists, met with Holzer, who told them of his plan to bomb the synagogue in order to send a message to Jewish people that they were not welcome in Pueblo, a city of 112,000, about 115 miles (185 km)south of Denver.

Holzer enlisted the agents to help acquire explosives and was arrested after the agents provided him with inert pipe bombs and sticks of dynamite.

Holzer faces up to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in January, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; editing by Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown)

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