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Neo-Nazi who planned to blow up synagogue sentenced to 19 years

Richard Holzer, 28, of Colorado, pleaded guilty to a plot to blow up one of the state's oldest temples. But he was unknowingly in contact with the FBI.
Signs, flowers and candles expressing support for the Jewish community outside Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colo., in 2019.Christian Murdock / The Gazette via AP

A Colorado man who prosecutors say is a self-identified neo-Nazi was sentenced to more than 19 years for a plan to blow up one of the state's oldest synagogues, officials said.

Richard Holzer, 28, was sentenced to 235 months, or around 19 1/2 years, in prison and 15 years of supervised release for the plan to target Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, said the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado.

Holzer in October pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and an explosives count. While he planned to blow up the synagogue, which was built in 1900, he was unknowingly in contact with the FBI.

Holzer confessed after his arrest and said that while he didn't plan to kill anyone, he still would have gone ahead with the attack even if people had been inside, according to court documents.

The dynamite and pipe bombs were supplied by the FBI and could not have exploded, officials said. Holzer planned to detonate what he thought were explosives in the early morning hours of Nov. 2, 2019.

Jason Dunn, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, said the sentence was "another step forward in our on-going fight against extremism."

Officials said Holzer's actions met the federal definition of domestic terrorism. "Mr. Holzer targeted a place of worship for violence and destruction to drive people of the Jewish faith from our community," said Michael Schneider, FBI special agent in charge for the Denver office, in a statement.

Public defenders representing Holzer declined to comment Friday night. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 20 years in prison, documents say.