Neo-Nazi group members linked to attack plot plead guilty

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U.S. Attorney

FILE - This image taken from a Sept. 14, 2019, video and released in a U.S. Attorney detention memorandum, shows Brian Mark Lemley Jr, driving, and Patrik Mathews, passenger seat, passing through a toll booth near Norfolk, Va., en route to Georgia. The pair, along with William Garfield Bilbrough IV, plotted to carry out "essentially a paramilitary strike" at a Virginia gun rights rally, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. FBI agents arrested Mathews, Lemley and Bilbrough on Jan., 16, as part of a broader investigation of The Base, a white supremacist group. (U.S. Attorney via AP)

GREENBELT, Md. – Two neo-Nazi group members whose talk of planning an attack at a Virginia gun rights rally was secretly recorded by the FBI pleaded guilty on Thursday to gun charges.

Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews, U.S. Army veteran Brian Mark Lemley Jr. and a third member of The Base were arrested on federal charges in Maryland ahead of the January 2020 rally at Virginia's Capitol in Richmond.

Mathews, 28, and Lemley, 35, pleaded guilty at separate hearings to charges including illegally transporting a firearm and obstruction of justice — they destroyed cellphones when FBI agents raided their apartment.

The third co-defendant, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in December to helping Mathews illegally enter the U.S. from Canada in 2019.

After a prosecutor read aloud a summary of the case against them, the judge asked them the same question: “Did you do the things the government said you did?” Mathews and Lemley both replied that they did.

Mathews pleaded guilty to four counts that carry a combined total of 50 years in prison. Lemley pleaded guilty to seven counts punishable by a maximum of 70 years. However, in both cases, federal sentencing guidelines likely will recommend a prison sentence that is significantly lower than the statutory maximum.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang, who isn't bound by the guidelines, is scheduled to sentence Mathews and Lemley on Oct. 28.

None of the defendants faced terrorism-related charges, and a “stipulation of facts” signed by Mathews, Lemley and prosecutors didn't mention the Richmond rally. But prosecutors are reserving the right to seek a so-called terrorism enhancement at sentencing that could lead to a significant increase in a prison term if the judge agrees to apply it.