Prosecutor: Brecksville suspect planned to use phone to detonate bomb

AKRON, Ohio - A suspect in a plot to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge planned to use a phone to detonate what he thought were real explosives, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman told jurors in the Akron trial of Joshua Stafford that Stafford tried again and again to use the phone.

"He wanted that bridge to be destroyed," Herdman said. "He wanted that bridge to come down."

Stafford, who is representing himself, acknowledges he can be seen in an infrared video taken of the bombing suspects by the FBI. The video was taken the night of April 30, 2012 at the base of the bridge, The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland reported (http://bit.ly/12jU7B2).

But Stafford told jurors that the evidence will show "I did not have malicious intent to destroy that bridge."

No bomb went off and no one was injured in the plot. The intended target was a highway bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron, authorities said.

An informant who secretly recorded conversations helped FBI agents foil the bomb plot, and an undercover agent supplied the would-be bridge-bombers with fake plastic explosives, authorities have said.

Stafford is charged with the use of weapons of mass destruction and aiding and abetting the use of weapons of mass destruction. His four co-defendants, all members of the Occupy Cleveland movement, previously pleaded guilty to charges related to the bombing plot and are serving prison terms.

Douglas Wright, 27, of Indianapolis, is serving 11 1/2 years in prison, and Brandon Baxter, 21, of Lakewood, was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison. Connor Stevens, 21, of Berea, was sentenced to an eight-year prison term, while Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, received a sentence of six years.

Prosecutors had labeled Stafford and his four co-defendants as domestic terrorists.
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Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

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