RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Coast Guard lieutenant accused by prosecutors of plotting to kill members of Congress to advance a white nationalist agenda is asking an appellate court to vacate his guilty plea after a judge ruled that his crime was an act of terrorism.
Christopher Hasson of Silver Spring, Maryland, pleaded guilty in 2019 to firearms offenses. But at his sentencing hearing, the judge applied a "terrorism enhancement" that resulted in a 13-year prison sentence. Without the terrorism enhancement, sentencing guidelines would have resulted in a term of about four years.
Hasson was never charged under a terrorism statute, and his lawyers say the terrorism enhancement was wrongly applied. They say he never intended to carry out any killings.
Prosecutors say that plotting to kill members of Congress is exactly the type of crime for which a terrorism enhancement should apply.
Hasson's lawyers are scheduled to make their case Friday afternoon to a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. In court papers, they ask the panel to either vacate Hasson's guilty plea or order a new sentencing hearing.
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