Conor Climo, 24, apologized before U.S. District Judge James Mahan sentenced him to prison followed by six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Prosecutors recommended a 30-month prison sentence.
“I was truly wrong for all of this," Climo said. “I even have come to really regret everything, everything that I was involved with.”
The judge gave Climo credit for the jail time he already has served since his August 2019 arrest and agreed to recommend that he serves his prison time in Louisiana, near grandparents whom he plans to live with after his release.
“I'm going to take you at your word,” Mahan told Climo. “I think you have seen the error of your ways and you want to reform.”
Defense attorney Paul Riddle said his client is grateful that FBI agents arrested him when they did because he knows that he was on a “very dark path."
“But he's not on that path anymore, and he's the not same person that was arrested,” Riddle said.
The FBI said it began investigating Climo in April 2019 after learning of his encrypted internet chats with members of Feuerkrieg Division, an international offshoot of a U.S.-based neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division. Climo told FBI agents that he joined Feuerkrieg Division but left because he “became bored with the group and their inaction,” according to a court filing.
Climo, in pleading guilty to a firearm charge, acknowledged that he discussed attacking a synagogue or other targets during his online communications with an undercover FBI agent and an informant. Agents who searched Climo's Las Vegas home found bomb components and two rifles.
Climo was “not just talking about what he believes and intends to do, but rather is planning, and has engaged in actions,” a federal magistrate judge wrote after Climo's arrest.
Atomwaffen has been linked to several killings, including the May 2017 shooting deaths of two men at an apartment in Tampa, Florida. Atomwaffen co-founder Devon Arthurs who was charged with killing two of his roommates in the apartment, told police they were group members and that he killed them to thwart a terrorist attack.
Federal authorities have arrested several men linked to white supremacist groups promoting “accelerationism,” a fringe philosophy espousing mass violence to fuel society’s collapse. Members of a neo-Nazi group called The Base were arrested in January ahead of a gun rights rally in Virginia. Several Atomwaffen members were charged in February with conspiring to harass journalists, church congregations and a former Cabinet official.
Climo pleaded guilty in February to illegal possession of an unregistered firearm, a charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
During an FBI interview, Climo described his white supremacist ideology and expressed his hatred of Jews, African Americans and gay people, authorities said.
Climo told an FBI informant that he tried but failed to recruit a homeless person to conduct surveillance on a synagogue in October 2017, according to a court filing.
“The defendant had very specific plans about attacking one specific synagogue near his house,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe wrote in an order last year. “The defendant spoke of wanting to light an incendiary device and having others join him to shoot people as they came out of the synagogue.”
Investigators said Climo compiled a journal with sketches of gunmen attacking a LGBTQ bar in a downtown tourist corridor. His list of potential targets also included a fast food restaurant and a Las Vegas office for the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, authorities said.
The ADL describes Feuerkrieg Division as a group that has advocated for a race war and promoted some of the most extreme views of the white supremacist movement. Formed in 2018, it had roughly 30 members who conducted most of their activities online, the ADL said.
Another man linked to Feuerkrieg Division, former soldier Jarrett William Smith, was sentenced in August to 2 1/2 years in prison for distributing information about building a bomb and making napalm to an undercover FBI agent while he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Climo, a former security guard, came to the attention of authorities in September 2016 when he was interviewed by a local television news crew as he wore military-style battle gear and patrolled his neighborhood carrying an assault rifle, survival knife and extended-capacity ammunition magazines. Police said at the time he was not arrested because Nevada does not prohibit openly carrying firearms.
Kunzelman reported from College Park, Maryland.
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