Oregon Mosque Arson Suspect Admits to Hate Crime / US

Oregon Mosque Arson Suspect Admits to Hate Crime / US
(Thursday, November 5, 2015) 07:38

A man suspected of setting fire to a Corvallis mosque near his home in 2010 -- just two days after the FBI arrested now-convicted terrorist Mohamed Mohamud in the Portland bomb plot -- pleaded no contest on Tuesday to a charge of damaging religious property.

Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken found 29-year-old Cody S. Crawford guilty and set his sentencing for March 2. He is expected to be sentenced to five years of probation under a plea agreement signed by Crawford and lawyers in the case.

Crawford, who has bipolar disorder and Asperger's Syndrome, has lived at the Oregon State Hospital since a May 23, 2014, guilty-but-insane plea to an unrelated weapons charge, involving a slingshot, in Polk County Circuit Court.

From inside the state hospital in Salem, Crawford has persistently declared his innocence in the mosque arson, often in phone calls to The Oregonian and in the comments section of stories on OregonLive.com.

"By pleading nolo contender," according to Crawford's plea agreement, he "does not admit guilt, but accepts a finding of guilt by the court."

Court papers show that the government was prepared to prove that Crawford committed a hate crime by intentionally defacing, damaging or destroying the mosque because of the race, color or ethnic characteristics of those associated with the property.

Government prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of fire in the commission of a felony.

Crawford was arrested on Aug. 24, 2011, the same day a federal grand jury in Eugene handed up an indictment accusing him of the hate crime and using fire to commit a felony at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center at 610 N.W. Kings Boulevard in Corvallis.

Fire swept through the office of the mosque on Nov. 28, 2010, a blaze that investigators quickly ruled arson. Crawford lived in a red brick house about 200 feet south of the mosque, its minarets visible from the front porch of the home, according to a federal affidavit.

Mohamud, who prayed at the mosque while a student at Oregon State University, was sitting in a downtown Portland jail cell at the time of the arson.

A team of FBI agents arrested him on Nov. 26, 2010, after a long-term sting operation. Mohamud was charged with attempting to detonate what he thought was a massive fertilizer bomb during Portland's annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

The bomb, a harmless fake secretly rigged by the FBI, was presented to Mohamud by two undercover agents posing as al-Qaida terrorists. Mohamud mounted an entrapment defense, but was found guilty after a three-week trial in 2013.

Mohamud was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Oct. 1, 2014. His lawyers have filed an appe

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