A court case that captured the nation’s attention culminated in a 13-year prison sentence Friday for a former Marine and Lieutenant in the Coast Guard.
U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel sentenced Christopher Hasson, 50, to 160 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release. Hasson originally faced 31 years for charges leveled against him by federal prosecutors, but he plead guilty to all four counts in October.
Hazel said he believes the Coast Guard officer was preparing to carry out a “mass casualty assault as a way to act out his white nationalist views.”
“The need to protect the public is of paramount importance,” the judge said.
Hasson, in his first public comments since his arrest nearly a year ago, said he has never harmed anybody in his life and wasn’t planning to hurt anyone “in any way, shape or form.” But he apologized to his family, his Coast Guard colleagues and to the public at large, saying he knew his actions alarmed many people.
“I am embarrassed by these things and sorry for the pain they have caused,” he said.
Hasson was arrested in February for stockpiling weapons in his Silver Spring, Maryland apartment with the intent to carry out attacks against some Supreme Court justices, prominent Democrats, and TV journalists.
Prosecutors said Hasson kept a spreadsheet of targets that included Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough, and Chris Cuomo and Van Jones of CNN.
The Grand Jury for the District of Maryland charged Hasson with unlawful possession of unregistered firearm silencers, unlawful possession of firearm silencers unidentified by serial number, possession of firearms by unlawful user and addict of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.
Hasson owned 15 firearms, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and an assortment of other weapons at the time of his arrest. Registration of gun silencers with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is required by federal law.
He was also in possession of Tramadol, an opioid and a schedule IV substance.
The former lieutenant worked at the Coast Guard headquarters for nearly three years prior to his arrest. He self-identified as a “White Nationalist” for over 30 years was inspired by the manifestos of mass-shooter Anders Breivik and Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber.” He cited these and the memoir of 1996 Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph in his own writings, according to the government’s sentencing memo.
United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Robert K. Hur, announced Hasson’s sentence.
“Preserving our nation’s security against terrorist threats continues to be the Justice Department’s top priority. Lives were saved due to the skill and dedication of law enforcement in this case,” Hur said during sentencing.
“Christopher Hasson intended to inflict violence on the basis of his racist and hateful beliefs. As long as violent extremists take steps to harm innocent people, we will continue to use all of the tools we have to prevent and deter them,” said Hur.
CONTRIBUTING: Associated Press