Richard Holzer, a Colorado white supremacist, was sentenced to 235 months — nearly 20 years– in federal prison after pleading guilty in October to scheming to blow up a Pueblo synagogue in 2019.
“I am not one who believes that harsh punishment is only reserved for people who managed to succeed,” said Judge Raymond Moore. “He attempted to blow up a synagogue, to wipe it from the face of the earth and to terrorize a Jewish community…It is one of the most vulgar, aggressive, evil crimes that can be committed against an entire group of persons.”
Holzer was also sentenced to a 15-year term of supervised release.
Holzer, who self-identifies as a Neo-Nazi and a white supremacist, planned to blow up the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo and visited the temple to observe it and its congregants. Undercover FBI agents intercepted the plan.
Holzer, 28, pleaded guilty in October to intentionally attempting to obstruct persons in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs, through force and the use of explosives and with attempting to maliciously damage and destroy, by means of fire and explosives, a building used in interstate commerce.
“He wanted to terrorize the Jewish community and get away with it with some notoriety on the side,” federal prosecutor Julia Martinez said.
Federal agents arrested Holzer after he met with undercover FBI agents and discussed his plans to blow up the synagogue. At a later meeting, the agents provided Holzer with inert explosives and Holzer made hateful, anti-Semitic statements.
The sentencing ranged among a wide variety of topics, including the defendants’ relationships with women, his fetal alcohol syndrome and Odinism, a religion focused on Norse mythology that is practiced by some neo-Nazis.
Holzer’s defense argued that his views were abhorrent but that putting Holzer in prison for a longer amount of time would only strengthen Holzer’s white supremacy beliefs.
“Let’s not pretend the DOC does not have active white supremacy,” said defense attorney Mary Butterton. “The answer is not locking him in a cage with other white supremacists for 20 years.”
The defense argued that Holzer could be rehabilitated, but the judge noted that even now in Holzer’s prison cell, swastikas have appeared on his cell walls.
“Everything about him is built on embracing these hateful concepts,” Moore said.
The prosecution countered that due to the extreme nature of Holzer’s views, the 28-year-old would be dangerous upon his release.
“I’d like to tell you there won’t be white supremacists he could find online and in-person [after Holzer’s release],” Martinez said. “But that would be laughable…All you have to do is open a history book to see how a powerful mob of white supremacists can disrupt our society.”
The judge — who said the case was “dripping with Nazi-ism and white supremacy” — noted that even though Holzer did not carry out his hateful ideas, damage was done to the Jewish community in Pueblo.
“For those people, it tears at their soul,” Moore said. “They feel like they’re hunted — correctly. That people want to destroy them. That’s something that sits with them everyday, and it’s not just when they’re near that temple and it’s not just Temple Emanuel, and it’s not just Pueblo, and it’s not just Colorado. People or those who would be inspired by such actions find in it something to emulate or copy.”
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