An anti-abortion rights crusader suspected of mailing hundreds of hoax anthrax letters to women's health clinics around the United States was sentenced Friday to more than 30 years in prison on firearms, theft and jail break charges.
Clayton Lee Waagner, who was on the FBI's 10 most wanted list when he was captured near Cincinnati last Dec. 5, had been convicted by a jury a year earlier of gun possession by a felon and motor vehicle theft.
He escaped from an Illinois jail before his sentencing and later claimed responsibility for sending more than 550 letters to women's clinics. The envelopes contained a powder which the missives said was anthrax spores but which turned out to be harmless.
His hoax letters coincided with a rash of deaths and illnesses caused by anthrax-laced letters sent to media outlets in New York and Florida and to Capitol Hill in Washington.
But Waagner, 45, was not connected to the anthrax mail sabotage that hit the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
In an appearance before judge Harold Baker of the U.S. District Court Friday, Waagner was sentenced to 327 months in jail on the firearms and theft conviction and an additional 37 months for jail breaking, or 30 years and four months in all.
In a June 18 message attributed to Waagner that appeared on the "Army of God" Web site, he wrote that God had showed him how to open a high-security door at the Illinois jail. The underground Army of God has also claimed responsibility for attacks on abortion clinics.
In his message, Waagner issued a warning to abortion providers: "I'm a terrorist to a very narrow group of people, but a terrorist just the same. As a terrorist to the abortionist, what I need to do is envoke (sic) terror. I wish to warn them that I am coming. I am anointed and called to be God's Warrior."
He was no less defiant at his sentencing.
He said he felt like the best thing he had ever done in life was -- as he put it -- "going to war with these people."
Federal prosecutors must now decide whether he should be brought to Cincinnati or taken to Philadelphia for prosecution on charges stemming from the alleged clinic threats, U.S. Attorney Gregory Lockhart said.
The decision could come next week, said Lockhart, the federal prosecutor for southern Ohio.
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