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Guilty plea in plot to burn down California Democratic headquarters

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California man pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to blow up the state’s Democratic Party headquarters in what prosecutors said was the first in a series of politically motivated attacks after the defeat of former President Donald Trump.

Ian Benjamin Rogers, 46, of Napa, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to destroy a building by fire or explosives, possession of an explosive device and possession of a machine gun under a plea agreement which could earn him seven to nine years in federal prison.

US prosecutors in San Francisco have charged Rogers and Jarrod Copeland with conspiring to attack targets they associated with Democrats after Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 presidential election.

Both men “hoped their attacks would spark a movement,” prosecutors said when they announced the charges in July.

Copeland, 38, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and destruction of records.

“I want to blow up a Democrat building,” Rogers wrote in one of the messaging apps he used to communicate with Copeland, according to the indictment. In another message, he said that after the inauguration of Democratic President Joe Biden, “we are going to war”.

Their first intended target was John L. Burton’s Democratic headquarters in Sacramento, prosecutors said.

Law enforcement officers who searched Rogers’ home in January 2021 seized nearly 50 firearms, thousands of cartridges and five pipe bombs, prosecutors said.

He was taken into custody and later charged by the state after the FBI said he sent text messages that agents perceived as threats to the unoccupied governor’s mansion and social media companies Facebook and Twitter.

Under a universal agreement, the federal sentence will be served concurrently with a 10- to 12-year state sentence for similar Napa County charges of possession of fully automatic weapons and explosive devices, a said Rogers attorney Colin Cooper.

Rogers “has never had any issues before,” Cooper said.

“He has accepted his responsibilities and he wants to pay his debt to society and get back to a productive life, to be a good father, a good husband and a good family man” with an 11-year-old son, Cooper said. “He feels bad about what happened and what he did to his family, and he’s a guy I don’t think we’ll ever see again in the (criminal justice) system. “

Rogers remains in custody pending sentencing, scheduled for September 30.

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