LOS ANGELES (Feb. 5)
A Jewish Defense League leader has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a plot to bomb a mosque and the office of a U.S. congressman.
The second count carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison. The first count could add another 10 years.
Krugel’s attorney, Mark Werksman, believes his client will receive a total of 12 years when U.S. District Judge S. W. Lew pronounces a sentence May 19.
If Krugel, 60, had gone on trial and been convicted, he would have faced a mandatory 40-year sentence.
“Earl is relieved that the matter is behind him,” Werksman said. “He didn’t want to plead guilty, but the political climate today is not hospitable for defending a domestic terrorist case.”
Rubin, Krugel’s alleged co-conspirator, committed suicide last November at a federal detention center, according to prison authorities.
Rubin’s family has filed a $5 million wrongful death claim against the U.S. government.
Werksman said Rubin’s death “knocked the wind out of Krugel.”
Both men were arrested in December 2001 after a third participant reported the plot to the FBI.
Outside the downtown courthouse, Rubin’s wife and son, joined by other supporters, held up signs denouncing Krugel as a “rat” for implicating Rubin in the plot.
The JDL’s Web site charged that Krugel had “falsely accused Rubin of directing the conspiracy.”
Though he remained in the shadow of the high-profile and articulate Rubin, Krugel was a familiar figure at street demonstrations. He served in the U.S. Navy and worked as a dental assistant.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said, “As this successful prosecution makes clear, acts of terror targeted at individuals because of their race, religion or national origin will not be tolerated in the United States.”
U.S. Attorney Debra Yang, whose office prosecuted the case, said, “I hope that today’s guilty pleas help to demonstrate to this nation’s Muslim and Arab Americans that we will investigate and prosecute terrorist acts directed against them, just as we investigate and prosecute terrorist acts directed at other minority groups.”