Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty To ‘White Supremacist’ Plot To Destroy Baltimore’s Power Grid

(Public/Screenshot/YouTube/WMAR-2 News)

John Oyewale Contributor
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A Marylander admitted Tuesday in federal court to plotting to destroy Baltimore by attacking the city’s electrical facilities to promote her extreme ideology, prosecutors said.

Sarah Beth Clendaniel, of Catonsville, pleaded guilty to conspiring via encrypted communication applications to damage or destroy Baltimore Region’s power grid and to being a felon in possession of a firearm, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland said in a press release.

Clendaniel conspired with Florida resident Brandon C. Russell from around Dec. 2022 to Feb. 2023 to simultaneously attack five Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) electrical substations in and around Baltimore for the ideology of “accelerationism”, prosecutors alleged. Accelerationism “is based on a white supremacist belief that the current system is irreparable and without an apparent political solution, and therefore violent action is necessary to precipitate societal and government collapse,” the press release claimed.

Clendaniel communicated the hope that the attacks would “completely destroy this whole city” and “probably permanently completely lay this city to waste if we could do that successfully,” prosecutors further alleged. She and Russell allegedly studied the “Open Infrastructure Map” of the five major BGE substations—three near Norrisville, Reisterstown, and Perry Hall and two around Baltimore City. (RELATED: Man Who Tried Killing Cops With Machete-Like Knife In NYE Attack Bags Lengthy Sentence)

Both alleged co-conspirators discussed their plans with a law enforcement informant, together and independently, in the hope of achieving a “cascading failure.” Clendaniel also allegedly solicited the informant’s help with obtaining a rifle, despite her self-divulged status as a felon. Clendaniel allegedly told the informant she was “determined to do this”, to “accomplish as much as possible before June, at the latest,” and would have carried out a solo attack had she not lost her rifle “a few months ago”, according to the press release.

Both alleged co-conspirators also allegedly explained to the informant how the attacks would facilitate accelerationism and the breakdown of society.

Law enforcement agents swooped on Clendaniel’s residence Feb. 3 just as the plans concretized and recovered from her bedroom multiple firearms and ammunition rounds. She had been prohibited from possessing such items, having been convicted of robbery in 2006 and attempted robbery in 2016, the press release noted.

Clendaniel faces up to 20 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for the conspiracy charge and 15 years in prison for possessing weapons as a felon, if convicted. She is due to be sentenced Sep. 3.

Russell is facing the conspiracy charge and awaits trial.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge William J. DelBagno reportedly said Clendaniel planned the attacks “in furtherance of her white supremacist ideology” and that the FBI would “continue to investigate violent threats”.

“Ms. Clendaniel’s hate-fueled plans to destroy the Baltimore region power grid threatened thousands of innocent lives,” said Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron, according to the press release. “But, when law enforcement and the communities we serve are united in partnership, hate cannot win.”