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One pleads guilty in Ohio anarchist bomb plot, agrees to testify

One of the five defendants in what officials called an anarchist plot to blow up a bridge in Ohio pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to testify against the other defendants, according to a federal official.

Anthony Hayne, 35, pleaded guilty to three charges in U.S. District Court, said Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times.

In exchange for the guilty plea, Hayne agreed to testify against the others facing a variety of charges in connection with the plan to blow up a bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, south of downtown Cleveland, said Tobin, speaking for the office headed by U.S. Atty. Steven M. Dettelbach.

Hayne originally could have faced life in prison, but by testifying can lower his sentence to about 15 years to 19 years, Tobin said.

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At the time of the arrest, federal officials said the men were engaged in an anarchist plot tied to May Day, the international holiday celebrating activism by working-class groups and other liberal movements. There was never any danger to the public because the fake explosives were provided by an undercover FBI agent.

Originally, the group had planned to use smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple signs for financial institutions atop high-rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, according to the complaint.

But the plot escalated to include explosive materials, the government alleged. The defendants conspired to obtain C-4 explosives for use in two improvised explosive devices.

The group discussed various targets in the Cleveland metropolitan area before picking the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. The bridge goes from Brecksville, Ohio, to Sagamore Hills, Ohio, over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to the complaint.

Still facing charges are: Douglas L. Wright, 26; Brandon L. Baxter, 20; Connor C. Stevens, 20; and Joshua S. Stafford, 23, according to prosecutors. All face life in prison if convicted.

The trial is scheduled for Sept. 17, Tobin said.

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Join Michael on Google+. Email: michael.muskal@latimes.com

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