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Former university student pleads guilty to neo-Nazi swatting conspiracy

July 22 (UPI) -- A former Old Dominion University student who targeted his school with fake bomb threats has pleaded guilty to a swatting conspiracy that included the leader of a neo-Nazi organization.

John William Kirby Kelley, 19, pleaded guilty in an Alexandria, Va., courtroom Tuesday for his role in a conspiracy that saw journalists, his former university, a historic Virginia church and a former cabinet official the victims of swatting, a harassment tactic that involves notifying authorities of a dangerous situation, such as a bomb, in order to have officers sent to that location.

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Prosecutors said Kelley ran an online chatroom where conspirators chose targets for swatting, including his university, which was the subject to such an attack at least twice in November and December 2018 with the first instance resulting in officials issuing a shelter in place order and officers searching the campus for an explosive device.

In total, 134 swatting calls were made across the country, prosecutors said, including to a former Virginia Cabinet official in January of last year and the Alfred Street Baptist Church in November 2018.

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Many of the conspirators held white supremacist views, the prosecutors said, including John Cameron Denton, 26, of Montgomery, Texas, a former leader of neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.

Denton pleaded guilty last week for his role in the swatting conspiracy having participated in the three Virginia instances and having chosen at least two other targets, one of a New York City news organization office and an investigative journalist who produced material for that company.

The two men were arrested in late February along with three other conspirators.

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Denton, who is to be sentenced Nov. 17, and Kelley, whose sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 24, both face a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

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