BOSTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A federal judge Wednesday sentenced a biracial white supremacist to nearly 22 years in prison for plotting to ignite a racial holy war with a bomb.
A jury in July convicted neo-Nazi Leo Felton, 32, of conspiring to bomb Jewish or African-American landmarks in Boston. He was also convicted of bank robbery and counterfeiting to finance his plot.
His girlfriend, Erica Chase, 22, was convicted on similar charges and is to be sentenced late in January.
"I never contemplated the bombing or destruction of any landmark," Felton wrote in a 13-page letter to U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, although he admitted to having bomb-making materials in his Boston apartment, including a 50-pound bag of ammonium nitrate and the wiring and timing device extracted from a coffee maker.
"There were obviously no targets for this hypothetical device, since I was not even sure that I'd be able to make and evaluate such a thing without accidentally blowing my arm off or killing myself," he said in the letter.
In court, Felton said he was a changed man.
"I am a new man, a good man," he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney S. Theodore Merritt, however, also filed papers with Gertner in which he asked that Felton be sentenced to the maximum 27 years.
"Leo Felton needs to be isolated from society for its general protection," Merritt wrote.
His attorney, Lenore Glaser, had asked for a sentence of 15 years.
The judge, agreeing that Felton appeared to have softened his hard-line racist ideas, sentenced him to 21 years and 10 months, the low end of the sentencing guidelines.
In his letter, Felton blamed his racist opinions on serving 10 years at New York's Rikers Island, starting at the age of 19, where he said he was exposed to a "nine-year diet of racist ideology."
Prosecutors said Felton laid the groundwork in prison for "Aryan Unit One," a white supremacist terror cell that would begin a nationwide racial holy war.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Schulman had described Felton and Chase as "long-standing white supremacists committed to a vision of an all-white America."
She said their plan "was to ignite a racial holy war through violent terrorist action."
Glaser, however, called Felton a misguided artist who depicted violent racist acts in comic books, but who never actually committed any acts of neo-Nazi terrorism. She said he was being persecuted for his political beliefs.
Felton and Chase were arrested in April 2001 when a police officer caught them trying to pass a counterfeit bill at a doughnut shop in East Boston.
Prosecutors never found evidence of a precise target of Felton's conspiracy, but found news clippings in the couple's apartment about the Holocaust Memorial near Boston's Faneuil Hall and photos of the new bridge named for the late Jewish advocate Leonard Zakim.
Though Felton is a self-described white supremacist, his father is a black architect and his mother a white civil rights activist. His parents are divorced.