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Guilty Plea in Fort Riley Bomb Plot

Associated Press - February 3, 2016 2:53 pm

fort riley file

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) –  A 21-year-old man has pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts in connection with a plot to plant a bomb outside an Army post in northeast Kansas.

John T. Booker Jr., of Topeka, changed his pleas to guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to use an explosive device to damage government property. A plea agreement with prosecutors recommends that he be sentenced to 30 years in prison on the first charge and 20 years on the second charge, to be served at the same time.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped a charge of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group.

Booker had initially pleaded not guilty to three felony charges. He could have faced life in prison if convicted of those charges.

He was arrested in April 2015 outside Fort Riley, about 60 miles west of Topeka, trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb in a van.

12:30 p.m.

A Kansas newspaper says it has received a letter from a man charged with seeking to aid the Islamic State group, saying he wants a new attorney to represent him in his federal criminal case.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1KXNbeT ) that it received the letter Wednesday from John T. Booker Jr. He is charged with seeking to aid the Islamic State group by planting a bomb last year at Fort Riley, about 60 miles west of Topeka.

The newspaper said Booker accused defense attorney Kirk Redmond of neglecting him. Also, Booker told the newspaper he sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia last month.

A court hearing for Booker in front of Murguia was delayed Wednesday until the afternoon after the judge announced he’d received a letter from Booker.

Redmond declined to comment leaving court.

11:30 a.m.

A federal court hearing for a man charged with seeking to aid the Islamic State group by planting a bomb at an Army post in northeast Kansas has been delayed after he sent a letter to the presiding judge.

John T. Booker of Topeka appeared Wednesday for what was scheduled to be a hearing to change his not guilty pleas to three charges. The charges included attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

But Judge Carlos Murguia announced he’d received a letter from Booker. Neither he nor Booker’s attorney gave details. Booker and his lawyer conferred with Murguia, and the attorney asked that the hearing be delayed until afternoon.

Booker was arrested in 2015 outside Fort Riley. He was trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb in a van. Prosecutors allege Booker told an FBI informant he wanted to kill Americans and engage in violent jihad on behalf of the Islamic State group.

1:15 a.m.

A 21-year-old man is due back in federal court over criminal charges alleging that he sought to aid the Islamic State group by planting a bomb at an Army post in northeast Kansas.

The hearing Wednesday for John T. Booker Jr., of Topeka, was scheduled before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia to allow Booker to change his pleas of not guilty to three charges. They included attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Booker was arrested in April 2015 outside Fort Riley, about 60 miles west of Topeka. He was trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb in a van.

Prosecutors allege Booker told an FBI informant he wanted to kill Americans and engage in violent jihad on behalf of the Islamic State group.

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