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RNC protester sentenced to 2 years on bomb charge

February 12, 2010

BY JAMES WALSH, reprinted from Star Tribune

The first of two Austin, Texas, men to plead guilty to making Molotov cocktails during last summer’s Republican National Convention was sentenced to two years in federal prison Thursday.

Bradley Neal Crowder, 23, who pleaded guilty in January, had come north to St. Paul in August as part of a group from Texas that intended to disrupt the convention, prosecutors said. He and David Guy McKay, 22, were indicted for filling eight wine bottles with a mixture of gasoline and motor oil while they stayed in an apartment not far from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, site of the convention.

McKay, who pleaded guilty in March, is scheduled to be sentenced May 21. U.S. Chief Judge Michael J. Davis sentenced Crowder to three years supervised release after his prison term is completed. Crowder and McKay’s case gained national attention for the FBI’s use of an undercover informant, longtime activist Brandon Darby, who participated in early planning meetings by the Texas group and rode north with the men to St. Paul in a rented van. Darby said he began working with the FBI when the group’s plans for the convention turned violent. McKay insisted at his trial that Darby had entrapped him into making the explosives.

That claim helped end McKay’s first trial with a hung jury. McKay dropped that claim and pleaded guilty at the beginning of jury selection for his second trial, after it became clear that prosecutors were going to call Crowder to testify. It was believed that Crowder’s testimony would contradict McKay’s version of events.Investigators say the men made the Molotov cocktails with the idea of using them to get back at police, who had seized a trailer filled with homemade riot shields and helmets that the Texas group planned to use during demonstrations. The bombs never left the apartment building where they were made, however.

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