Patrik Mathews, the former Canadian Armed Forces reservist at the centre of a violent plot to trigger a race war in Virginia, has been sentenced to nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Mathews, 28, from Beausejour, Man., had already pleaded guilty to weapons charges related to his role in a white supremacist plan to disrupt a gun-rights rally in January 2020.
U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang delivered the sentence today in a Maryland courtroom.
Mathews spoke in his defence, saying he fell in with a bad crowd and expressing a measure of remorse — but he didn’t apologize, which the judge took note of.
Chuang called it “galling” that someone from another country would come to the U.S. thinking it’s a place that’s near collapse and that he could accelerate that process.
The judge said the U.S. is full of patriotic, law-abiding people and is not on the verge of collapse, contrary to what some might think.
Chuang agreed earlier this week to the prosecution’s request for a “terrorism enhancement,” which would have allowed a sentence of up to 25 years behind bars.
Prosecutors had argued Mathews’ crimes were serious, but his motives even more so.
Since the arrest of Mathews and his co-defendant, U.S. army veteran Brian Mark Lemley Jr., in January 2020, court has heard ample evidence of the pair talking in stark terms about killing federal officials, derailing trains and poisoning water supplies as part of a violent, disruptive scheme to exploit political and social tensions and trigger a race war in the United States.
At the centre of the plot was a massive rally by gun rights activists at the state capitol in Richmond., Va., where the two — both members of the white supremacist group The Base — were counting on clashes between police and tens of thousands of heavily armed protesters angry about proposed gun control measures.
Both men pleaded guilty in June to charges that included illegally transporting a firearm and obstruction of justice. A third co-defendant, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, pleaded guilty in December to helping Mathews enter the U.S. illegally. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Earlier this week, their lawyers did their best to dismiss the scheme, which they conceded was hate-filled and disturbing, as little more than the idle chatter and braggadocio of a pair of deeply troubled and alienated young men with twisted beliefs and an affinity for guns.
However, Chuang said at a hearing on Tuesday that their conversations, text exchanges and planning — much of it captured through FBI wiretaps, so-called “sneak-and-peek” warrants and the use of undercover officers — comprised much more than just the “wishes and hopes and far-flung fantasies” of a pair of “wide-eyed neophytes.”.
Rather, they were “specific, serious and calculating in the actions they intended to perpetuate,” the judge said.
Mathews’ father, Glen, read a brief statement in open court today in which he described his son as a troubled soul with a good heart.
The father said his son was on the autism spectrum and has always been bullied, and at some point he took a wrong turn.