A man who resembled Santa Claus except for the inmate jumpsuit apologized and tearfully spoke of missing funerals for loved ones while in jail for plotting with other “angry old men” to take out their anger on the government.
His co-defendant, meanwhile, remained defiant, accusing the federal government he hates of conspiring against him. “I am not a criminal, never have been never will be. I am not a terrorist, never have been,” said Samuel Crump, 70, with only one lung, struggling to breathe as he ranted.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Richard Story sentenced Crump and Ray Adams, 58, to 10 years in federal prison. The pair are the last two of four domestic terrorists who plotted their attacks on the government over coffee at Waffle House and Shoney’s restaurants, among other places.
The sentences for the men, who were convicted of plotting to make ricin to attack government buildings and civilians in public places, were half what prosecutors wanted but twice what two cohorts got after pleading guilty previously.
The other two — Militia of Georgia members Frederick Thomas, 76, and Dan Roberts, 69 — were sentenced to five years in federal prison last year after pleading guilty to arranging to buy guns and explosives from undercover agents to carry out their much-discussed plan to attack the government.
Because Crump and Adams went to trial, they got twice the prison sentence of Thomas and Roberts, even though Story felt Thomas and Roberts were more dangerous.
In convicting Adams and Crump a jury last January decided the recordings made by an informant revealed conversations that were more than the “musings of old men,” as the defense attorneys had argued.
“This is not simply the case of a group of angry old men,” Story said before announcing his sentence.
The judge said he knew people who expressed their anger at the government — and he would defend their right to express their opinions — but what Crump and Adams had done was beyond “trash talk.”
“This is not a case about what was said. This is a case about what was said and what was done,” Story said.
While the biological toxin ricin was not delivered, “the crime charged here is pretty darn serious,” Story said about the plot to “take lives of citizens and to overthrow the government by force.”
The plans of the unusual suspects became public when federal agents on Nov. 3, 2011, raided the homes of the four men who had been secretly plotting domestic terrorism and found a cache of weapons, ingredients for a deadly toxin and explosive materials.
The judge said while he doubted the two could have made ricin, “You guys are not too old to do things and to hurt people but you’re old enough to know better.”
Crump and Adams met at the Masonic Lodge in Taccoa when Crump moved to the area. Adams’ lawyer said he was lonely, living on a secluded farm, so he started “to hang out at the Masonic Lodge and the Waffle House with guys” who talked of their anger at the government. Defense attorney Ed Tolley said their discussions were aggravated by “hate talk” radio and television and the increasingly antagonistic political climate.
According to testimony, the men talked of a plane dropping ricin on Washington and spreading the poison on federal government buildings in Atlanta, Athens and Gainesville and in public areas, such as on I-85 in Atlanta.
Adams, according to testimony, planted dozens of castor plants on the remote farm that once belonged to his grandfather. Adams had a collection of castor beans, from which ricin is derived, and had already started shelling them, witnesses said.
Federal agents found buckets containing seed pods, toxic plant guides, a container of acetone, dried castor bean plants, instructions for making ricin, some form of explosives, a machete and at least a dozen guns.
Until they started meeting, Crump and Adams had done nothing criminal, family members, defense attorneys and the judge acknowledged Friday.
“My father (Adams) has been a law-abiding citizen all of his life,” said Melissa Krautkremer, holding her fussy 3-month-old daughter.
As she continued, one of Adams’ attorneys took the infant and swayed and cooed to quiet her while Krautkremer continued to plead for mercy for her father.
“This is a man who dressed as Santa Claus,” she said. Adams raised money for children’s hospitals and paid off her debts, as well as the debts of his ex-wife. “My father is a very giving man and generous to a fault. … I love my dad.”
Adams, leaning on a cane, said he would never hurt anyone.
“Nobody has ever said to me they wanted my help to hurt others,” said Adams, who is retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he worked in horticulture.
He cried when he told the judge he had missed the funerals of his mother and two of his closest friends because he was in jail.
“I have paid. I’ll be paying for this down the road,” Adams said.
Crump was not so conciliatory and the family members who spoke on his behalf expressed the same feelings.
“I think they were pulled into what they were doing by someone else,” said his brother, Roger. “I’d like to ask the court to show some mercy.”
Crump, who unlike Adams was wearing leg irons, said he didn’t do what he was convicted of doing and he continuously attacked the government’s star witness, Joe Sims, as a “liar” and a “child molester.” Sims was given a new identity and relocated after his child molestation charges were dropped.
Crump also lashed out at his attorney and asked the judge to find him another for his appeals.
“The only thing I done was talk,” Crump said, stopping often to catch his breath.
Crump would tell the judge he was done with his statement but then resume his rant.
“There’s no way I could make that stuff,” Crump said. “We talked. We talked. We had no intention of doing that. I think that covers everything. I hope it has.”