White supremacist pleads guilty in plot to blow up Colorado synagogue
© El Paso County Sheriff's Office

A self-identified white supremacist and neo-Nazi pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting to blow up a Colorado synagogue.

Richard Holzer was arrested last year and charged with federal hate crime and explosives charges for plotting to blow up the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo. In a Thursday plea agreement, Holzer said he planned to destroy the synagogue, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

He had previously used social media accounts to promote white supremacy, and he visited the synagogue to observe congregants, according to a Thursday statement from the Department of Justice.

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Holzer told undercover FBI agents last year that he wanted “to do something that would tell Jewish people in the community that they are not welcome in Pueblo, and they should leave or they will die,” the Justice Department said in the statement. He also said he was preparing for a racial holy war and that he wanted to "get that place off the map."

“The defendant attempted to bomb the Temple Emanuel Synagogue to drive people of Jewish faith out of his community,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a Thursday statement. “Violence motivated by religious intolerance strikes at the heart of a free society, and the Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute these violent acts of hate.” 

Holzer also admitted to officials that he coordinated with undercover agents to obtain explosives, including pipe bombs.

Last November, Holzer met with undercover agents, who gave him inert explosive devices ahead of his planned attack. According to the Justice Department, he showed the undercover agents a copy of Adolf Hitler's “Mein Kampf,” saying that “this is a move for our race.”

Holzer is set to be sentenced Jan. 20. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the hate crime charge and 20 years in prison for the explosives charge, in addition to a fine of up to $250,000.