Richard Holzer, 28, appeared in a federal courtroom in Denver
for a sentencing that capped an undercover FBI investigation of
a plan to blow up Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado, the
second-oldest synagogue in the state.
Although the plot was thwarted, U.S. District Judge Raymond
Moore said Holzer had sought “to terrorize the Jewish community”
of Pueblo, a city of 112,000 residents about 100 miles south of
“It is one of the most vulgar ... evil crimes that can be
committed against an entire group of people,” Moore said while
imposing the sentence sought by prosecutors.
Holzer declined to speak at the hearing.
The defendant pleaded guilty in October to one count of trying
to obstruct religious services by force, and one count of
attempting to destroy a building used in interstate commerce,
according to his plea agreement.
Holzer, who lived in Pueblo, was arrested in November 2019
following an undercover sting by federal agents tracking his
social media postings, in which he professed a hatred of Jews,
according to an FBI arrest warrant affidavit.
Posing as fellow racists, undercover agents reached out to
Holzer and later met with him as he broached the idea of blowing
up the synagogue, the affidavit said. Ultimately, the agents
provided him with inert pipe bombs and sticks of dynamite before
arresting him, court documents showed.
The judge rejected arguments by defense lawyers that Holzer has
renounced his racist views, noting that since his arrest he has
reached out to other white supremacists and continued to invoke
“The notion that he’s turned some corner is fantasy,” Moore
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman
and Sonya Hepinstall)
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