Patrik Mathews — a former Manitoba army reservist and an alleged recruiter for a National Socialist group — is expected to learn whether he will spend decades in prison at his sentencing in Maryland.
The morning started with lawyers arguing more about how the "terrorism enhancements" a judge agreed to earlier this week will impact sentencing and whether Mathews and his co-accused, Brian Lemley Jr., will be sentenced together or separately.
Mathews and Lemley entered the courtroom wearing orange prison suits and face masks, acknowledging and waving to their family members in the courtroom.
Though Mathews and Lemley have not been charged with terrorism, prosecutors successfully argued for a "terrorism enhancement" earlier this week, meaning a judge agreed their crimes were promoting a federal crime of terrorism.
The enhancement means they could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
Mathews pleaded guilty in June to gun charges linked to what the FBI has described as a "neo-Nazi plot to attack a gun-rights rally" in Virginia last January, which he and Lemley were hoping would lead to clashes between police and tens of thousands of heavily armed protesters.
Lemley, with whom Mathews lived in Delaware, is set to be sentenced the same day.
A U.S. army veteran who served in Iraq, Lemley has also pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including illegally transporting a firearm and obstruction of justice.
American prosecutors have said the pair wanted to instigate a civil war that would "decimate racial and ethnic minorities and subjugate women," court documents say.
Mathews was first publicly identified as a recruiter for The Base in 2019 after an undercover investigation by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe.
He then disappeared after RCMP raided his Beausejour home.
Mathews crossed into the United States and was missing for several months until he was arrested in Maryland in January 2020.
Court documents say the FBI conducted an underground operation beginning in July 2019 when an undercover agent went through an online vetting interview for admission into The Base.
The investigation found that Mathews, Lemley and other members of The Base conducted paramilitary training camps in Georgia in September and October, where they did tactical training and firearms drills.
In December 2019, FBI officers got court orders authorizing them to install a closed-circuit television camera and microphone in the apartment where Mathews and Lemley were living, which captured them discussing their plans to attack the Virginia rally.
In some of the recordings, which were submitted as court exhibits, the pair can be heard talking about killing non-whites in order to benefit the movement.
For example, in one recording Mathews can be heard talking about killing Negro people, saying the group needs to start "getting rid of them wherever they stand."
He was also recorded talking about killing protestors with the left-wing Antifa movement.
"Antifa need to start disappearing, and they need to start looking over their shoulder and being scared, and I think the way to do that … is assassination."
Among the documents and items FBI officers found after they raided the pair's apartment was a video of Mathews wearing a gas mask and attempting to distort his voice.
In court Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang said he agreed that the pair's intercepted conversations discussing a plot to target the Virginia rally were more than just the "wishes and hopes and far-flung fantasies."
He said he agreed that Mathews and Lemley were discussing a plan they intended to commit.
"This was not just talk. There was intent to move forward with this type of terrorist activity," Chuang told the court.
The terrorism enhancement indicates the judge accepts that Mathews and Lemley were trying to advance these beliefs.
"They're not merely waiting for this to occur, they are hoping to take advantage of specific instances and events to try to create more violence," she said.
A third co-defendant, William Bilbrough IV, was sentenced to five years in prison last December for helping Mathews enter the U.S. illegally.