CHICAGO (AP) — Three protesters acquitted of terrorism for plotting Molotov cocktail attacks in Chicago during a NATO summit were sentenced to prison terms Friday of between five and eight years on lesser arson and mob-action charges. Among the targets the activists discussed attacking during the 2012 event, prosecutors say, was President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house and police facilities. Despite their acquittals during a February trial on all terrorism counts — brought under a rarely used Illinois statute — the issue remained at the forefront of Friday’s five-hour sentencing hearing. Judge Thaddeus Wilson raised it himself in his remarks minutes before imposing the sentences, saying the plan to lob gas-filled bottles at the targets, had it been carried out, would have struck fear in the city.
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“It might not be terrorism,” the Cook County circuit judge said. “But it is terrorizing.” All three were convicted of the same charges, but Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ended up getting the shortest sentence — five years. Jared Chase, 29, of Keene, N.H., got the longest, 8 years; and Brent Betterly, 26, of Oakland Park, got six years. Lead prosecutor Jack Blakey began his statement urging Wilson to hand all three men 14-year sentences by referring to the Boston Marathon bombings one year ago, which left three people dead and hundreds injured. “Why bring up Boson? Because in Boston there were no undercover (police) to intercede,” Blakey said. He suggested that only the successful infiltration of Chicago police posing as activists stopped the defendants from creating similar mayhem.
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