JUDGE REJECTS PLEA FOR RAISETHEFIST.COM, SHERMAN AUSTIN
Raisethefist.com, Sherman Austin went to court on Monday, Sept 30th to plead guilty to felony: 18 U.S.C. 842 (p)(2)(A): DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO EXPLOSIVES, DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES, AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WITH THE INTENT THAT SUCH INFORMATION BE USED IN FURTHERANCE OF A FEDERAL CRIME OF VIOLENCE. The plea bargain was to give Austin a felony conviction with 1 month in jail, 5 months in a half-way home and 3 years supervised release.
As the prosecutor read the factual basis of the plea agreement in court, Judge Wilson immediately turned defiant, saying 1 month in jail was not acceptable. He expressed that posting such information regardless of any intent should be illegal, (this of course completely disregarding the 1st amendment and the thousands of NON-ANARCHIST web sites which distribute bomb making instructions), stating that the offense is too serious for Austin to serve only 1 month in jail. Judge Wilson argued that Austin should serve more than 12 months, even though the sentencing is between 6-12 months for Austin's criminal history category under violation 18 U.S.C. 842.
The judge also attempted to make Austin out as a terrorist, saying he didn't care how old he was, that his political philosophy behind his reasons of posting the information made it a very serious federal offense, with the intent that the information be used for malicious destruction at international events of foreign commerce.
Austin's attorney argued that the intent of posting the information was not that it be used for offensive purposes, but that it would be used in a self-defense manner only if police were to violently attack demonstrators, putting them in danger and disallowing them to exercise their freedom of speech.
If going to trial, Austin faces 3-4 years in prison if convicted of both felony charges: 18 U.S.C. 842 (p)(2)(A): DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO EXPLOSIVES, DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES, AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WITH THE INTENT THAT SUCH INFORMATION BE USED IN FURTHERANCE OF A FEDERAL CRIME OF VIOLENCE; 26 U.S.C. 5861(d): POSSESSION OF A FIREARM WHICH IS NOT REGISTERED TO HIM IN THE NATIONAL FIREARMS REGISTRATION AND TRANSFER RECORD.
Once indicted, a plea would offer Austin 6+ months in jail.
On January 24th, 2002, Sherman became one of the first victims of the new USA Patriot Act when 25 heavily armed FBI agents and secret service surrounded and raided his home in Los Angeles because of his anarchist web site http://www.raisethefist.com
. All computer equipment along with political literature, even protest signs were seized and loaded into a big white truck.
Austin was not arrested until a week later when he decided to attend the World Economic Forum protests in New York. He was arrested by New York police after being targeted law enforcement officials. After spending nearly 30 hours in jail, Austin was taken into a back room in hand cuffs and interrogated by the FBI and Secret Service for several hours. 10 minutes later he was released from jail with charges dropped. Within minutes he was re-arrested by 6 FBI agents and placed in maximum security federal prison. At his bail hearing he was accused of driving 3,000 miles carry out his "plot" of mass destruction against the WEF event, and on the way back to "blow up" the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Even though federal agents searched his car in New York, and found absolutely nothing, and there was a blatant lack of evidence, he was denied bail and the judge ordered Austin be transported to California with a US Marshal escort, as the judge felt "the Government has also shown by clear and convincing evidence that there is a very serious risk of danger to the community"
While awaiting finial extradition to California at a "hub" for prisoners in Oklahoma. Thomas Mrozek, public affairs officer for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said, "We have opted not to seek an indictment at this time. We are continuing to investigate the matter, but as of right now, he's off the hook."