Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Plotting Attacks on Electrical Facilities with White Supremacist Ideology, Faces Lengthy Prison Term

Sarah Beth Clendaniel, a 36-year-old resident of Catonsville, Maryland, confessed to conspiring to damage or destroy electrical facilities in Maryland.

Court documents revealed her involvement in a scheme orchestrated with Brandon C. Russell, a Florida resident, who shares a white supremacist ideology with Clendaniel and awaits trial on similar charges.

Ideological Motivations and Violent Plans

Clendaniel and Russell espoused “accelerationism,” a belief in violent action to hasten societal collapse, viewing the current system as irreparable.

Between December 2022 and February 2023, they conspired to disrupt the Baltimore regional power grid, communicating their plans through encrypted channels and coordinating with a confidential human source (CHS-1).

Detailed Planning and Intentions

Their plans involved targeting specific energy facilities involved in electricity transmission, with Clendaniel expressing determination to carry out the attack.

Conversations between Clendaniel, Russell, and CHS-1 detailed plans to procure firearms, select targets, and orchestrate a coordinated assault on multiple substations simultaneously.

Discussion of Targets and Consequences

Clendaniel identified substations in Norrisville, Reisterstown, and Perry Hall, discussing the potential impact of the attack on the city of Baltimore.

She envisioned causing significant damage to the power grid, leading to a cascading failure and societal disruption, viewing it as a means to advance accelerationist goals.

Discovery and Law Enforcement Response

Law enforcement intervened on February 3, 2023, executing a search warrant at Clendaniel’s residence and seizing firearms and ammunition. Clendaniel’s possession of these items violated federal law due to prior felony convictions.

She pleaded guilty to conspiracy and felony possession charges, facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Prosecution and Sentencing

Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuted the case, emphasizing the severity of Clendaniel’s actions and the threat posed by domestic extremism.

Clendaniel’s sentencing is scheduled for September 3, with the potential for a lengthy prison term followed by supervised release.

United Against Hate Initiative and Community Outreach

The case underscores the importance of initiatives like the United Against Hate program, which aims to combat hate crimes and foster trust between law enforcement and marginalized communities.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the nationwide expansion of the initiative, recognizing the crucial role of community engagement in addressing domestic extremism.

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