White supremacist sentenced to 19 years over plot to blow up synagogue

White supremacist sentenced to 19 years over plot to blow up synagogue
© El Paso County Sheriff's Office

A Colorado white supremacist and self-described neo-Nazi was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison for plotting to blow up a Colorado synagogue, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Richard Holzer, 28, received a sentence of 235 months, which equates to about 19 and a half years, in prison for his plot to attack Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado. Holzer was also sentenced to 15 years of supervised release.

Holzer, who was arrested and charged with a federal hate crime in 2019, pleaded guilty to his charges in a plea agreement last October. He admitted to undercover FBI agents at the time he was arrested 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,” according to the Justice Department.

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Federal officials said that Holzer's scheme to ignite explosives at the synagogue met the definition of domestic terrorism, though the dynamite and pipe bombs he received from the undercover FBI agents could not have been detonated.

"Mr. Holzer targeted a place of worship for violence and destruction to drive people of the Jewish faith from our community," Michael Schneider, FBI special agent in charge for the Denver office, said in a statement.

Holzer also made threats of violence on social media and posted a photo of him pointing a gun and wearing clothing with white supremacist symbols on his Facebook account in 2019.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Jason Dunn deemed Holzer's sentencing "another step forward in our on-going fight against extremism."