A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a New Brighton, Minn., man to three years in prison for trying to sell weapons to Hamas, which is on the U.S. State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Michael Robert Solomon, 31, drew the attention of the FBI when he and his co-defendant Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 23, of Hampstead, N.C., showed up heavily armed at protests that followed the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
Solomon and Teeter admitted being part of the Boogaloo Bois, a far right domestic extremist group that wants to start a civil war. The men pleaded guilty to trying to sell weapons to an purported member of Hamas who turned out to be an FBI informant.
According to a court filing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis had initially sought a 20-year sentence. At a Thursday sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter requested 11 1/2 years after noting Solomon’s “prompt guilty plea” and subsequent cooperation with the government.
But Winter argued that Solomon still deserved a lengthy sentence because at no point during his attempted sale of arms to a person he believed to be an agent of Hamas did Solomon say “this is crazy, or maybe not a good idea.”
Judge Michael Davis, who presided over earlier terrorism cases involving Al Shabab and ISIS, grilled Winter for about 15 minutes on the government’s request for a long prison term, saying that there are “other bad guys doing way less time.” Davis said that “Mr. Solomon didn’t burn down any buildings,” nor did he “shoot an AK-47 into the Third Precinct.”
Montez Terriel Lee, 26, of Rochester is serving a 10 year sentence for arson, the longest of any 2020 riot defendant. Two months after the fire, authorities found the body of Oscar L. Stewart Jr., 30, in the ruins, but Lee was not charged with Stewart’s murder. Ivan Harrison Hunter of Boerne, Tex. faces sentencing on a federal riot charge April 5 after he admitted firing a rifle into the 3rd Precinct police station as the building burned.
Davis also noted Solomon’s cooperation in the prosecution of another Boogaloo Bois member, Timothy John Watson, of Ranson, W.Va., who’s serving a five-year sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm silencer. The judge said information that Solomon provided to prosecutors helped take down Watson’s website, through which prosecutors said he sold “drop-in auto sears” to more than 800 people. The devices are used to illegally convert semiautomatic rifles to shoot in fully automatic mode.
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