Man gets 22 years for plotting California attacks

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP)

One of four men accused of plotting from behind bars to attack military sites, synagogues and other targets in California was sentenced Monday to 22 years in federal prison.Levar Haley Washington, 30, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney after pleading guilty last year to conspiring to levy war against the United States and using a firearm to further the conspiracy.

Prosecutors said Washington used a shotgun to rob a Torrance gas station on July 4, 2005. He was part of a prison gang cell of radical Muslims that planned attacks in the Los Angeles area and intended to finance them through robberies, prosecutors said.

Two co-defendants, Kevin James and Gregory Patterson, also pleaded guilty to the terrorism conspiracy charge and will be sentenced later this summer. A fourth man, Hammad Samana, was found unfit to stand trial and is being treated in a federal psychiatric facility, said Thom Mrozek, U.S. attorney's spokesman.

Washington said the government had exaggerated the group's intent, but Carney disagreed, saying the "nature and scope of the terrorist acts ... are truly frightening."

Washington's attorney, Ellen Barry, did not immediately return a call Monday.

Prosecutors alleged that the plot was orchestrated by Washington, Patterson and Samana at the behest of James, an inmate in Sacramento who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh.

Washington converted to Islam and then tried to recruit other members, authorities said, including men who had no criminal records and could acquire weapons without suspicion. He and Patterson also robbed about a dozen gas stations to raise money for the attacks, Mrozek said.

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