A former Canadian Army reservist and an American veteran with neo-Nazi ties will spend nearly a decade in U.S. federal prison after being convicted on charges tied to their roles in planning what the FBI called a violent conspiracy to create chaos at a gun rally and spark a race war.
Patrik Mathews and Brian Lemley Jr. were sentenced to nine years in prison each by a federal judge in Maryland on Thursday after the FBI said the two men were part of The Base, a neo-Nazi group that aims to start a race war they believe will lead to a white ethnostate, according to Canadian broadcaster CBC.
In June, both pleaded guilty to firearms charges after an FBI investigation found evidence they were planning to attack a January 2020 pro-gun-rights rally at the state capitol in Richmond, Virginia, in a move to encourage confrontations between protestors and police on the scene.
After the sentencing, Mathews expressed his regret and told the court that what happened “was insane, and all my fault,” according to CBC, adding he hoped to return to his family in Canada.
Lemley, a former U.S. Army member who served in Iraq and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, told the court the things the FBI recorded him saying “don’t reflect who I really am,” according to the Associated Press.
Mathews and Lemley helped recruit new members for The Base, according to the FBI, which sent an undercover operative to a paramilitary training camp in Georgia run by Mathews, Lemley and other group members in October 2019. At the camp, attendees ran firearms drills and underwent tactical training, the FBI said. Later that year, the FBI set up cameras and microphones in the Delaware apartment Mathews and Lemley shared, and picked up the men planning their attack on the Virginia rally. The two discussed killing Black people, members of Antifa and a police officer to incite violence. A third man arrested alongside the two, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, pleaded guilty in December to transporting Mathews across into the U.S. illegally and was handed a five-year sentence. The Base believes mass racial violence would lead to a collapse of society that would allow for a white ethnostate to be established in the U.S.
2 neo-Nazi group members sentenced to 9 years in prison (Associated Press)