A counterfeiter who hated the federal government so much he dreamed of causing more destruction than Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to a maximum 160 years in prison for plotting to blow up Chicago’s federal courthouse.
Gale Nettles, 66, was sentenced to eight consecutive 20-year terms Thursday by a New York judge because all Chicago’s federal judges were recused.
Two of the 20-year sentences were for plotting to blow up the Everett M. Dirksen federal courthouse, a 28-story glass and steel structure in the downtown Loop. The others were for cranking out bogus $20 and $100 bills.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox said the government was pleased with the sentence in view of Nettles’ long criminal history, including burglary and attempted murder.
Wanted to destroy 'several city blocks'
Fox described Nettles as a violent man who thought McVeigh “had not done enough to kill as many people as possible.” The 1995 attack destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building and killed 168 people.
“He talked about taking out several city blocks,” Fox said of Nettles.
Nettles’ grudge was over a long prison sentence he served for counterfeiting, Fox said.
FBI agents started watching Nettles after he boasted to another inmate that he would get revenge on the government by driving a truck loaded with explosive ammonium nitrate into the courthouse’s underground garage.
Undercover agents were involved when Nettles later bought what he thought was ammonium nitrate. Nettles resold some of the substance to an undercover FBI agent he believed was a member of either al-Qaida or the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
At trial, Nettles claimed he had been entrapped and never would have bombed the courthouse if merely left alone.
Nettles was arrested at a flophouse in 2004 by an FBI-led Anti-Terrorism Task Force.