Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division was sentenced to three years in prison on federal hate crime charges stemming from his role in a scheme to threaten journalists and advocates exposing anti-Semitism.
Cameron Shea, 25, of Redmond, Wash., was sentenced Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington after pleading guilty in April to one count of conspiring to commit three offenses against the United States including interference with protected activities because of religion, mailing threatening communications and cyberstalking. He also pleaded guilty to a separate count of interfering with a federally protected activity because of religion.
"The Justice Department will continue to aggressively prosecute threats motivated by religious intolerance, and to prosecute defendants like this one who threatened violence against individuals who work to end discrimination," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
Shea was arrested in February 2020 along with three other members of Atomwaffen Division, a group the Anti-Defamation League said became active in 2016 and is comprised of members preparing for a race war to fight against the displacement of White people.
Prosecutors said the group specifically targeted journalists who were Jewish or people of color, and either sent them via mail or hand-delivered posters containing images of guns, Molotov cocktails and Nazi symbols as well as threatening messages to their homes.
The group conspired through encrypted online chat to identify their targets and planned for their posters to arrive at their victims' homes on the same night in order to create a show of force to catch the members of the media off guard.
"We're coordinating this nationwide operation called Operation Erste Saule, named after the first pillar of stat[e] power, AKA the media," Shea said in the chat, according to the complaint. "We will be postering journalists houses and media buildings to send a clear message that we too have leverage over them."
Posters were delivered to victims in Tampa, Fla., Seattle, Wash.; and Phoenix, Ariz.; on Jan. 25, 2020.
Four days later, a Seattle journalist who had written about Atomwaffen Division and an employee of the ADL told the FBI that they had received the threatening posters.
Shea's co-defendants in the case Taylor Parker-Dipeppe and Johnny Roman Garza previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served and 16 months in prison.
Kaleb Cole, the third co-defendant in the case, pled not guilty and is awaiting his September trial.
"This hate-filled conduct strikes at the heart of our communities," said Acting U.S. Attorney Tess Gorman for the Western District of Washington. "This defendant's goal was to make people fearful in their own homes and he recruited and cheered on others who joined his sick scheme. This federal prison sentence underscores the human damage from his crimes."