Family of bridge bomb plot suspect says he was set up by undercover FBI informant

Bridge bomb suspects plead not guilty

CLEVELAND - The five men charged in a plot to blow up a bridge outside of Cleveland last week all entered not guilty pleas Monday in Federal court.

All five were seated at one table wearing orange prison jumpsuits with their attorneys by their side as a crowd of around 50 supporters filled the seats of the courtroom of Federal Magistrate Greg White.

Douglas Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Connor Stevens, 20, of Berea; Brandon Baxter, 20, of Lakewood; Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland and Joshua Stafford, 23, of Cleveland all faces charges related to the use of a weapon of mass destruction to destroy property impacting interstate commerce.

The charges carry with them a maximum of life in prison if convicted. A detention hearing was postponed so the five remain held in federal custody without bond.

The men were arrested last week after prosecutors said they placed what they thought were explosives at the base of the Route 82 high-level bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and went to a location not far away and entered a code they thought would trigger the bombs.

The bombs were fake, purchased from undercover FBI agents working in connection an undercover informant inside the group.

"We're not even out of the locker room on this one yet," said Hayne's attorney Michael O'Shea. "There's nothing intelligent I can give you about the case at this point."

Outside the courthouse the father and sister of Stevens gathered with supporters.

"How do you have that many friends and that much love unless you're a beautiful soul and that's Connor, he's a beautiful soul," said his father, James Stevens. "He's a seeker, he cares about the earth, he cares about humanity and he's smart enough to know what's going on in this world and it hurts him deeply."

Connor's sister, Brelin Stevens, said her brother is not like the rest of those charged.

"You need to look at them as individual people and not five people being tried as monster terrorists," she said.

"He was more involved in Occupy Cleveland than anyone I knew. He spent his time, hours days, all of his life for Occupy Cleveland. He cared about the poverty of Cleveland, he cared about the human beings of Cleveland," she said. She blamed the undercover FBI informant for setting her brother up.

"The informant approached these five men, gave them jobs, gave them money," she said, "was promising them places to live. Connor said ‘I do not want to be a part of this,' Connor did not want to be a part of this."

"He thought he wouldn't have a job or a place to live. This person they trusted him they thought they had to do it there was talk of threats he was scared he did not want to be a part of this," she said.

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