TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida militia leader was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for plotting terrorist attacks on power plants and government offices.
Donald Beauregard, 32, a general in the group called the Southeastern States Alliance, had plotted to steal explosives from a National Guard armory and blow up power plants to paralyze central Florida and Atlanta with blackouts, federal agents said.
Agents said he had planned simultaneous attacks to be carried out on power lines and utility towers feeding Atlanta and St. Petersburg, including bombing the Crystal River nuclear plant 90 miles north of Tampa Bay.
The fact that the acts were never carried out was not because the plan was abandoned, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz told the judge. ''Mr. Beauregard was a general of the SSA. He was in charge,'' Kunz said.
Beauregard, a manager of a Hickory Farms store in St. Petersburg, was arrested in December and pleaded guilty March 10 to one count of conspiracy to degrade government property, destroy energy plants and provide material support for terrorists.
Defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully for a shorter sentence than the maximum five years, contending that Beauregard was impressionable and easily led.
But U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara said: ''He was clearly contemplating crimes of terrorism. There is no question he was engaged in activity that posed a serious threat of violence.''
According to the indictment, Beauregard's militia activity dates back to 1995.
The indictment described the Southeastern States Alliance as a group created to perform violent, retaliatory acts against government facilities and personnel. Federal agents don't give locations of its groups but say meetings took place in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Florida.