Obama assassination plotter gets 10 years behind bars

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — A young white supremacist was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for conspiring to kill then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and dozens of other blacks.

U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen sentenced Paul Schlesselman, 19, of Helena-West Helena, Ark. He had pleaded guilty in January to his role in the plot.

A co-defendant, Daniel Cowart, 21, of Bells, Tenn., pleaded guilty in March and is awaiting sentencing.

Schlesselman’s attorney, Doris Randle-Holt, declined comment on the sentence. Schlesselman also was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Authorities have described the pair as white supremacist skinheads who hatched a plan to go on a cross-country robbery and killing spree that would end with an attack on Obama in 2008.

Their plan was to kill 88 African-Americans and behead 14 others before trying to take out Obama, a U.S. senator at the time. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist movement.

Investigators have said both men believed they’d die while trying to get to the presidential candidate, but they plotted to fire on him from a speeding car while wearing white tuxedos and top hats.

Authorities said the two never got close to carrying out their plans, but had enough firepower to create carnage.

The court hearing for Cowart in March outlined how the pair was going to proceed with their plot. Cowart sent photographs and floor plans of a gun shop in the Jackson area that they planned to rob to get weapons for the spree.

Schlesselman contacted a friend in Texas who would harbor them and tried to reach somebody else in California who would give the pair shelter as they traveled state to state killing people. They also bought ski masks to use during robberies, along with nylon rope.

The pair were arrested in October 2008 at Cowart’s grandparents’ home in rural West Tennessee, where they had both been living. Authorities seized a sawed-off shotgun, a high-powered rifle, a handgun and several swords and knives.

Cowart’s car was emblazoned with a large swastika and the numbers 14 and 88 on the hood. It also said “Honk if you love Hitler.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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