- A known neo-Nazi and a woman from Maryland have been arrested and charged with conspiring to attack several electrical substations in the Baltimore area, federal authorities said.
- Prosecutors said admitted neo-Nazis Brandon Clint Russell and Sarah Beth Clendaniel conspired to carry out the attacks “for the purpose of promoting Russell’s racially or ethnically motivated extremist beliefs.”
- Russell is on probation following a conviction related to possession of an unregistered destructive device.
- The conviction came after a former roommate told authorities Russell’s neo-Nazi group was planning to attack power and nuclear infrastructure in Florida.
Brandon Russell is seen in this photo from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office via AP
A convicted neo-Nazi and a woman from Maryland have been arrested and charged with conspiring to attack several electrical substations in the Baltimore area, federal authorities said Monday.
Prosecutors said admitted neo-Nazi Brandon Clint Russell, 27, and Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 34, conspired to carry out the attacks “for the purpose of promoting Russell’s racially or ethnically motivated extremist beliefs.”
Russell is currently on probation following a federal conviction related to possession of an unregistered destructive device, which occurred after a former roommate told authorities that Russell’s neo-Nazi group was planning to attack electrical infrastructure. and nuclear in Florida.
Clendaniel reportedly boasted that if the electrical substations were all attacked on the same day, it would “completely destroy this whole town”, according to a newly unsealed criminal complaint against her and Russell.
“A good four or five hits to the center of them,” Clendaniel allegedly said, according to the complaint.
Woman believed to be Sarah Beth Clendaniel in DOJ document
Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek Barron said in a statement, “This planned attack threatened lives and would have left thousands of Marylanders cold and dark.”
“We are united and determined to use all legal means necessary to disrupt the violence, including hate-motivated attacks,” Barron said.
Russell, who lives in Orlando, Fla., is scheduled to appear in federal court in that city on the charges Monday afternoon.
Clendaniel, a resident of Catonsville, Maryland, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Baltimore on Monday afternoon.
Both defendants are charged with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility. They face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if convicted.
Russell previously admitted to police in May 2017 that he started a local National Socialist group in Tampa, Florida called “Atomwaffen,” which included three of his housemates in that city, according to the criminal complaint.
This interview was conducted after Devon Arthurs, a roommate of Russell’s in Tampa, killed their two other roommates, according to the complaint. Last year Arthurs was found fit to stand trial for the murders. He remains being held without bond in a Florida jail.
Arthurs told law enforcement at the time “he had recently converted from neo-Nazi beliefs to Islam,” according to the complaint. “Arthurs said he murdered his roommates because they bullied him for being a Muslim.”
Arthurs also told authorities that “Russell was the leader of the neo-Nazi group to which he and his housemates had belonged,” the complaint states.
“Arthurs said that before killing his housemates, they planned to attack American infrastructure, including power lines along ‘Alligator Alley’ (a nickname for the part of Interstate 75 that crosses the South Florida) as well as a Florida nuclear power plant.”
During the investigation into the murders, authorities found neo-Nazi paraphernalia, a photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and “hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (“HMTD”) and, among other things, numerous precursors explosives that belonged to Russell” according to the complaint.
Russell pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device and improper storage of explosive materials, the complaint states. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Clendaniel has a criminal history that includes a robbery conviction, according to the complaint.