CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS/AP) — A New Jersey man admitted Friday to coordinating a neo-Nazi group’s plot to vandalize two Midwestern synagogues and cause other damage across the country. Richard Tobin, 19, of Brooklawn, pleaded guilty to conspiracy against rights, according to federal prosecutors in New Jersey. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced on June 28.
Tobin admitted communicating online in September 2019 with other members of The Base, a neo-Nazi group, and directed them to vandalize synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin. At the time, he told investigators that he had launched “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to the deadly pogrom in 1938 when Nazis looted and burned synagogues and Jewish-owned homes and stores in Germany.
“Americans should never have to fear racist, antisemitic or any other form of bias-motivated violence,” Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said. “This defendant encouraged hateful acts of violence against individuals and their houses of worship, based solely on their religion or the color of their skin. Together with our colleagues in the Civil Rights Division and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, this Office will continue to work every day to identify individuals like him and bring them swiftly to justice.”
Tobin also told FBI agents that he was “triggered by the state of the country” and recounted a time when he became enraged at seeing large crowds of Black people at a mall in Edison, New Jersey.
During the brief plea hearing in federal court in Camden, New Jersey, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, Tobin told U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler that he has undergone mental health treatment since his arrest in 2019, which has helped him manage his violent urges.
He said little else during the hearing, appearing via videoconference from his home, where he remains under house arrest until his sentencing.
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