Prosecutors seek 14-year prison terms for NATO 3 at sentencing Friday
By By Steve Schmadeke
Apr 24, 2014 | 5:21 PM
Cook County prosecutors want the so-called NATO 3 given at least 14 years each in prison at their sentencing Friday.
The three out-of-state men – Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly – were convicted of possessing Molotov cocktails but acquitted of more serious terrorism charges by a jury in February. They were arrested shortly after assembling four Molotov cocktails in the days before the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.
A 48-page sentencing memo by Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jack Blakey, who heads the office's special prosecutions bureau, said the trio have displayed a "defiant refusal to take responsibility for their conduct."
The three face between four and 30 years in prison. Their trial earlier this year was the first time Cook County prosecutors had brought charges under the state's terrorism statute, enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Prosecutors alleged the three plotted attacks on police stations, President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home.
But their attorneys argued that the three were "goofs" who talked big and were goaded on by two undercover officers.
"My mind, through a pot and beer induced haze, was never anywhere near even wanting to commit property damage, let alone blowing things up or burning things down," Church wrote in a letter to the court that was excerpted in the prosecution filing.
"Those who know who I am, who understand the depth of my desire for truly progressive change and peace, know that I am not capable of harboring such mindlessly violent intentions," Betterly wrote.
Prosecutors wrote that Betterly has continued to "defy and threaten" law enforcement while in jail, making "an inappropriate racial comment to an African American correctional officer" telling another to "watch out pig" and also punching the window of a guard station and yelling "f--- the police."
While Blakey acknowledged that other defendants who had possessed Molotov cocktails in federal cases in Oregon and Minnesota were sentenced to no more than 4 years, he wrote the NATO 3 did not plead guilty and "have taken great pains to abdicate all responsibility for their conduct."
The three are just as deserving of lengthy prison sentences as those convicted of trying to arrange a murder, Blakely argued.