Baltimore County woman pleads guilty to conspiring with neo-Nazi leader to attack energy grid

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A woman on Tuesday admitted to conspiring with a neo-Nazi leader to destroy electrical substations surrounding Baltimore in an attack that she told a confidential FBI source would be “legendary” and “probably permanently completely lay this city to waste.”

Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 36, of Catonsville, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to conspiracy to damage an energy facility and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a punishment at sentencing on Sept. 3 that does not exceed 18 years in prison.

Clendaniel admitted that she conspired with Brandon Russell, a neo-Nazi leader who founded the Atomwaffen Division, which the FBI described as a racially or ethnically motivated extremist group with cells in several states .

The group follows a neo-Nazi ideology called accelerationism, which looks at causing the collapse of society through violence.

Standing next to her attorney, Federal Assistant Public Defender Sedira Banan, Clendaniel appeared in a light blue prison jumpsuit and shook inside the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse as she responded to most questions from U.S. Senior District Judge James K. Bredar with, “Yes, your honor.” He noted that he does not have to accept the sentencing recommendation.

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