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Florida Man Sentenced in Bomb Plot

June 20, 2003|From Reuters

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida doctor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in federal prison Thursday for plotting to blow up an Islamic center in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Robert Goldstein, a 38-year-old podiatrist, apologized to the Islamic community before he was given the maximum sentence for conspiracy to violate civil rights, attempting to damage religious property and possessing unregistered firearms.

"I am truly sorry for my irresponsible behavior. I was so very lost at the time," he said. "I am a good person."

Goldstein was arrested in August after police discovered an arsenal of homemade bombs and automatic weapons in his house near St. Petersburg. They also found a detailed plan for attacking the Islamic Society of Pinellas County, and a list of 50 other Islamic centers and mosques around Florida.

Authorities said Goldstein told a friend he wanted to retaliate against Arabs and Muslims for the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in which about 3,000 people were killed, and for hostilities in the Middle East.

Goldstein pleaded guilty April 3.

U.S. District Judge James Moody said the seriousness of the offense justified the maximum allowable sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

Goldstein's attorney, Myles Malman, said his client suffered from mental illness and had an obsession with guns and explosives.

"He feels extremely remorseful. He's not a terrorist," Malman said.

Malman said Goldstein did not intend to kill anyone but only wanted to blow up the building.

But prosecutor Colleen Murphy-Davis said the written plan indicated Goldstein did intend to kill Muslims.

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