A Catonsville, Maryland, woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring to damage or destroy electrical facilities near Baltimore, which she and a co-conspirator planned to execute for white supremacist reasons intended to help to break down society.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a release that 36-year-old Sarah Beth Clendaniel pleaded guilty to conspiracy, while a co-conspirator, Brandon C. Russell of Florida, awaits trial on the same charge.

Clendaniel and Russell became acquainted with each other in 2018, and both advocated the white supremacist ideology of “accelerationism.” The concept is based on the white supremacist believing that the current system is irreparable and without a political solution. Therefore, violent action is required to spawn a government collapse, the DOJ explained.

Between December 2022 and February 2023, Clendaniel, Russell and others allegedly planned to attack energy facilities in the Baltimore region to disrupt the distribution of electricity to the city.

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When Clendaniel pleaded guilty, she admitted to communicating and planning to carry out the attacks on energy facilities, using encrypted communication applications.

Both Clendaniel and Russell allegedly told a confidential human source (CHS-1) of their plans to attack the Baltimore power grid, the DOJ said. Plans began to come together on Jan. 12, 2023, when CHS-1 and Russell discussed the attack, which involved hitting multiple substations at the same time.

Clendaniel used the screen name “Nythra88” to send a message to CHS-1, confirming that she supported the attack.

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Sarah Beth Clendaniel seen next to another individual with a rifle

Clendaniel told the source she lived near Baltimore, that she was a felon, and unsuccessfully tried to obtain a rifle. Clendaniel asked CHS-1 to purchase a rifle for her within the next couple of weeks to “accomplish something worthwhile.”

Throughout the conversations, Clendaniel told the source she had identified a few possible locations to target, adding the source would have to be the driver while she would be the shooter.

On Jan. 29, 2023, Clendaniel told the source she planned to target five substations, including Norrisville, Reisterstown, and Perry Hall, the DOJ said. She described how there was a “ring” around the city of Baltimore, and if they hit several of the substations in the same day, they “would completely destroy this whole city.”

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Mugshot of a woman suspected of shooting substations in Baltimore, MD.

The substations Clendaniel planned to take out were what she called “cores,” saying a “good four or five shots through the center of them” should “destroy those cores, not just leak the oil…”

“It would probably permanently completely lay this city to waste if we could do that successfully,” Clendaniel allegedly told the confidential source.

The DOJ also said that during the conversation between Clendaniel and the confidential source, Clendaniel sent five links to the “Open Infrastructure Map,” showing the locations of five specific Baltimore, Gas and Electric (BGE) electric substations. BGE utilizes substations like those targeted by Clendaniel, to produce and distribute energy.

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Neo Nazi leader Brandon Russell prior mugshot

While three of the five substations were in Norrisville, Reisterstown and Perry Hall, the other two were in Baltimore City.

The DOJ claims Russell and Clendaniel were under the belief that taking out these five substations would serve as “accelerationism” and help break down society.

Law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at Clendaniel’s residence on Feb. 23, 2023, and ultimately recovered various firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Since Clendaniel is a convicted felon for robbery in 2006 and attempted robbery in 2016, she is unlawfully permitted to possess firearms.

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She pleaded guilty to conspiracy and felony possession of firearms charges.

Clendaniel is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 3, and could face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 15 years for the possession charge. 

She also faces a lifetime of supervised release for the conspiracy charge.

Read the full article here

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