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Former Old Dominion University student John Kirby Kelley, 20, was sentenced to 33 months in prison for conspiracy involving neo-Nazis

A former Virginia college student who partnered with white supremacists in a massive plot to target a black church, his own alma mater and then Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was sentenced to nearly three years’ imprisonment. jail.

The 33-month sentence for John William Kirby Kelley, 20, of Vienna, Virginia, splits the difference between the five-year sentence sought by prosecutors and the 14-month-served sentence requested by his lawyers.

Kelley pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, threats of interstate injury, to hosting the Internet Graveyard chat room in which he and others raised bogus alerts to the bomb and attacks on over 100 different targets, many of whom were targeted because of their racial or religious animosity.

Crushing is defined by prosecutors as a harassment tactic that involves deceiving emergency dispatchers into believing that a person is in imminent danger of death or injury, thus forcing dispatchers to dispatch police and emergency services to address an unintentional target.

Kirby Kelley hosted the Graveyard <a class=internet chat room in which he and members of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group (symbol pictured above), launched bogus bomb threats and attacks against more than 100 targets different.” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Kirby Kelley hosted the Graveyard internet chat room in which he and members of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group (symbol pictured above), launched bogus bomb threats and attacks against more than 100 targets different.

Among those involved in the plot was John Denton, the founder of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi hate group. Denton, of Montgomery, Texas, has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Kelley was 17 and lived at his home in Northern Virginia when he started the Graveyard chat room. The chat room quickly became a haven for the hateful rhetoric of white supremacists, who reveled in the chaos caused by their calls to be crushed.

Among the targets were the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria and the home of Nielsen, a cabinet member of Donald Trump, who also lives in Alexandria. The group also targeted the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington, Texas, and a black church in Schenectady, New York, the first Reformed Church.

John Denton, founder of the Atomwaffen division, has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing

John Denton, founder of the Atomwaffen division, has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing

In total, the co-conspirators made 134 crushing calls across the United States.

Kelley also had her own school, Old Dominion University, which was targeted twice, on November 29 and December 4, 2018, resulting in closures and police intervention. University police contacted Kelley about the calls, but prosecutors said it was the subsequent call targeting Nielsen that led police to the members of the plot.

Even though Kelley regularly used racist language and admitted that the crush plot chose certain targets because of race or religion, he denied being a racist and argued that he naively acquiesced to the hate language prevalent. in the Internet channel he had created.

At his sentencing hearing in the US court in Alexandria, he apologized for his conduct and asked for clemency. He said the time he spent in prison had been difficult for him, noting difficulties such as the lack of access to the prison barber shop.

“The racial language that was expressed by me and my co-conspirators, along with the overwhelming attacks, do not represent my values ​​and beliefs,” he told the judge. “In addition, I was personally disgusted with the direction the chat room took after I left. I made it my personal mission to improve myself and separate myself from bad influences like these. ‘

Among the crushing targets was Alexandria, Virginia, home to then-Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Among the crushing targets was Alexandria, Virginia, home to then-Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

His lawyer, Cadence Mertz, objected to Kelley’s crimes being classified as hate crimes, resulting in a harsher sentence. She said there was no evidence that Kelley personally targeted anyone because of racial animosity.

“He made it clear that these opinions he expressed, which are hateful and vile, are not who he is,” Mertz said.

Judge Liam O’Grady, however, ruled that the hate crime designation was appropriate and said his conduct and association with known white supremacists “demonstrates how far you are and how aligned you are with this group. “.

But he credited Kelley with her youth, renouncing racism and mental health deficits by giving her a sentence 33 months below the recommended range of 51 to 60 months.

Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh, whose office pursued the case, said in a statement: “Crush attacks are serious crimes that disrupt the operations of local emergency agencies, keep first responders away from real emergencies and place victims … in grave danger EDVA will continue to bring to justice those who threaten public safety with these looming hoaxes, especially when these threats are motivated by racial or religious animosity.

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