Woman Pleads Guilty In Plot To Destroy U.S. Power Grid

(IntegrityPress.org) – A Maryland woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday, May 14, to plotting to bring down the Baltimore energy grid in a bid to bring about the long-term destruction of the city.

Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 36, admitted to possession of a firearm as a felon and to conspiring to destroy the energy grid. She faces up to 20 years imprisonment for conspiring to attack the grid as well as a lifetime of supervision. In addition, she faces up to 15 years in prison for illegally owning firearms. After being found guilty of both robbery in 2006 and attempted robbery ten years later, Clendaniel was forbidden from owning firearms.

Law enforcement arrested Clendaniel at her property on February 3, 2023, and while searching her house found several guns and rounds of ammunition. The raid came after an investigation into Clendaniel and her alleged co-conspirator, Brendan C. Russell of Florida. According to police, the pair used encrypted messaging to make their plans between December 2022 and February 2023, although they first came into contact in 2018 by writing letters to each other while incarcerated. Russell was serving time for offensives related to owning explosive devices.

The pair developed a romantic relationship and enjoyed discussing their white supremacist and “accelerationist” views with each other. Russell is reported to have created a neo-Nazi group named the “Atomwaffen”, which is known to U.S. law enforcement as an extremist and violent group. Russell and Clendaniel’ beliefs purportedly include the idea that society is becoming damaged beyond repair and that the best thing to do would be to speed up its destruction.

In order to achieve this aim, they are accused of plotting the destruction of the Baltimore power grid, with Clendaniel writing that it would hopefully “destroy [the] whole city”. The pair studied the “Open Infrastructure Map” of the five Baltimore Gas and Electric substations in order to establish how best to damage them. They discussed their plans with a law enforcement informant, who fed that information back to investigators.

Maryland U.S Attorney Erik L. Barron praised the investigation and described it as an example of law enforcement and local communities working together to potentially save thousands of lives. He added that “hate cannot win” when police and communities are united.

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