Crime and Courts

Virginia Man With Neo-Nazi Ties Sentenced to 1 Year

The 21-year-old from Northern Virginia is accused of buying a semi-automatic weapon for someone and possessing weapons while abusing drugs

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A Northern Virginia man with ties to a violent neo-Nazi group has been sentenced to a year in prison for weapons violations.

Twenty-one-year-old Andrew Jon Thomasberg of McLean admitted as part of a plea bargain in federal court in Alexandria that he bought a semiautomatic rifle for another person and possessed weapons while abusing psychedelic drugs. Prosecutors say Thomasberg was a leader and recruiter for a Virginia-based cell of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group that seeks to incite a race war and has been linked to several killings.

At a sentencing hearing Friday, Thomasberg apologized and said he's renouncing his racist ideology. Prosecutors had sought an 18-month sentence.

Court papers show that Thomasberg joked in text messages about the juxtaposition of drug use and neo-Nazi ideology.

“Yo im gonna start tripping again. Psychedelic Nazis,” Thomasberg wrote in one message. In another, he wrote: “Theres nothing more Aryan than entheogenic drug use. Drug addiction is untermensch.” “Untermensch” is a term that Nazis used for people they considered to be racially inferior.

Thomasberg is one of more than a dozen people with ties to Atomwaffen who has faced federal charges since the group was formed in 2016.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in Alexandria announced charges against an alleged Atomwaffen leader from Texas. He's accused of conspiring to phone in phony bomb threats to targets in Virginia and across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, prosecutors in Seattle charged four alleged Atomwaffen members and leaders with conspiring to intimidate journalists and others by making their addresses public and sending them swastika-laden posters informing them “You have been visited by your local Nazis.”

The 18-month term prosecutors sought at a Friday hearing is at the upper end of what is recommended under federal sentencing guidelines. In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said that Thomasberg's neo-Nazi affiliation, while not itself illegal, should be taken into account because it shows his willingness to engage in violence.

“While the defendant has a constitutional right to his own viewpoints and associations, these associations, when viewed in light of the defendant’s criminal conduct, are alarming,” prosecutor Anthony Mariano wrote.

Thomasberg's lawyer filed her sentencing memorandum under seal. When Thomasberg made his initial appearance in court last year, his mother said after the hearing that the FBI was unfairly targeting "a rich, white kid.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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