ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York man accused of helping to build a mobile X-ray device he thought would be used to kill people at a mosque and an Islamic center has asked the judge to dismiss charges, saying the plot was concocted by undercover investigators.
In court papers, Glendon Scott Crawford said the evidence turned over by federal prosecutors so far shows that from 2012 until his 2013 arrest, 59 federal and state agents worked on the case and "no criminal enterprise existed" except as they fabricated it.
Crawford, a General Electric industrial mechanic, acknowledged reading about gamma rays, contacting his congressman, Jewish groups and the Israeli embassy about the idea of using them on Islamic terrorists, and then being approached by "undercovers."
"The most blatant evidence that the alleged scheme was a government-staged production was the financial support given to defendant by the government," defense attorney Kevin Luibrand wrote. "The alleged attempted crimes were almost entirely the product of the government's labors (through the use of undercovers) and money, and the scheme would not have reached anything without the material support and funding provided by the government."
Authorities said the device was inoperable. Nobody was hurt.
Investigators alleged Crawford approached Jewish organizations looking for funding and people to help him with technology that could be used to surreptitiously deliver damaging and even lethal doses of radiation against those he considered enemies of Israel. "Crawford has specifically identified Muslims and several other individuals/groups as targets," investigator Geoffrey Kent said in a court affidavit.
According to the defense, the 14-month federal effort led to a meeting at a garage with a commercial X-ray machine and manuals — all supplied by authorities — where Crawford read directions, talked to the undercover agents about technical aspects of the machine, opened and closed the back of it, and declined to turn it on. In a recording from that meeting, he told them, "There is this thing called leagues, and I am not in this one."
Co-defendant Eric Feight, accused of building a remote control for the device with $1,000 provided by investigators, pleaded guilty last year to providing material support to terrorists. His sentencing has been postponed until after Crawford's trial, which is now scheduled for August. Feight could face up to 15 years in prison but is likely to get less.
Luibrand urged Judge Gary Sharpe to dismiss charges that Crawford attempted to use a device capable of endangering human life and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. He also asked the judge to prohibit prosecutors from referencing his client's claimed association with the Ku Klux Klan or his opinions about President Barack Obama, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and institutions like the Federal Reserve Bank, saying they could prejudice and mislead jurors.
The FBI office in Albany declined to comment on the case. Calls to federal prosecutors were not immediately returned Thursday.