Former US Marine pleads guilty to bombing California abortion clinic

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A former U.S. Marine pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges that he blew up a women’s health and abortion clinic in Southern California last year and admitted to court planning several other acts of “domestic extremism,” prosecutors said.

Chance Brannon, 24, was on active duty stationed at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base in San Diego County when he threw a Molotov cocktail at the entrance of a Planned Parenthood clinic in the early morning of March 13, 2022, according to in a federal. charge.

No one was injured, but the exterior of the clinic was destroyed.

Brannon, a resident of nearby San Juan Capistrano, has remained in federal custody since his arrest the following June.

He now faces five to 20 years in prison on each of the two most serious charges he pleaded guilty to – conspiracy and malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives.

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He also pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device and willful damage to a reproductive health services facility, which carry maximum prison terms of 10 years and one year, respectively. .

Under a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend a measure of leniency when Brannon is sentenced on April 15, 2024, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said. The judge is not bound by such recommendations.

In a press release announcing the guilty pleas, federal prosecutors said Brannon chose the clinic in Costa Mesa, south of Los Angeles, “to frighten pregnant women, prevent the doctors and staff to provide abortion services and encourage similar violent acts.”

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As part of his plea deal, Brannon admitted that he conspired with two co-defendants to attack three other targets – the second Planned Parenthood clinic, an LGBTQ pride celebration at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and an electric utility substation in Orange County. . .

Plans to bomb the power grid were discussed as a way to incite a race war, the US Attorney’s Office said in its statement.

None of the additional plans came to fruition. But prosecutors said Brannon prepared an “operation plan” and “gear list” that he kept on a thumb drive, and he shared a World War Two sabotage manual with one of his colleagues. A short-barreled rifle and two silencers were recovered from him when he was arrested.

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“This defendant exemplifies the insidious danger posed by domestic extremism,” US Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.

Two other men charged with Brannon – Tibet Ergul, 22, of Irvine, California, and Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida – have pleaded not guilty to the charges they face and are scheduled to go to trial. in March 2024.

Brannon is not required to testify against his co-defendants as a term of his plea agreement, according to US Attorney spokesman Ciaran McEvoy.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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