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Courts and Crime

The last of Ohio's would-be bridge bombers gets 10 years in prison
Federal judge also sentences Joshua Stafford to a lifetime of probation

Mark Urycki
Joshua Stafford was sentenced to 120 months in prison and probation for the rest of his life.
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U.S. District Judge David Dowd has sentenced  would-be Cuyahoga Valley bridge bomber Joshua Stafford Monday to 10 years in prison and probation for the rest of his life.

The 24-year-old Stafford was among five men charged with trying to plant explosives at the base of the Route 82 bridge 18 months ago. The explosives turned out to be fake, supplied by an FBI informant.  

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Before handing down his sentence, Judge David Dowd asked the defendant whether he had read the presentencing report. Joshua Stafford answered that he had not and that he had not spoken to the probation officers investigating him for the report.  Stafford had been found competent to stand trial and represented himself at trial, but today he had help from attorney Tim Ivey.

Ivey spelled out a long list of mental illnesses that inflicted Stafford, saying he was a boy who was born to a teen-age mother with a number of physical defects that "required super-human parenting" but instead was abused. He noted that Stafford had tried to commit suicide and had attempted to mutilate himself.  He said Stafford joined the Occupy Cleveland movement because it offered him love and support. About a dozen Occupy members sat in the back of the court, several in tears. Ivey asked the judge to lower the sentence down to about 6 ½ years in jail. 

But government attorney Duncan Brown argued other people suffer from mental illness but don’t try to set off bombs. He said Stafford had done more in the bomb attack than any of his five co-defendants except Douglas Wright, the ringleader. It was Stafford and Wright who took the fake bombs, armed them, and tried to detonate them.    

Judge Dowd eliminated the terrorism enhancements from Stafford's sentence as he had done with the other defendants. He said what troubled him most is ensuring that Stafford would not again threaten the public after he was released. Stafford’s 10-year sentence is second longest behind Wright’s 11 ½ years. The others received sentences of  nine, eight and six years. 

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