DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit-area man accused of being a vigorous supporter of the Islamic State group was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in prison for a weapons crime, dodging the government’s plea for a longer punishment to protect the public.
Sebastian Gregerson was a “soldier” for IS, a violent Islamic militant group, and would have committed terrorism if he hadn’t been arrested last year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken said while seeking a five-year sentence.
But Gregerson’s attorney said the government had greatly overstated its case. Gregerson, 30, pleaded guilty in March to possessing unregistered destructive devices.
“I don’t know how dangerous you are. But I know your conduct to date has not created an action or event that could be called dangerous,” U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow said.
Gregerson was sentenced to 45 months in prison. He’ll also serve a nine-month sentence at the same time for a separate gun crime.
The FBI used an undercover operative to get close to Gregerson. He was arrested and charged last August after he met an undercover FBI operative and traded a handgun for grenade parts, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
The government says Gregerson is an American Muslim who converted to Islam after high school.
In a December court filing, prosecutors said he was stockpiling weapons on behalf of ISIS — including seven rifles, 20 knives, tactical gear and training materials, and two ski masks along with what is called a “grab and go bag” filled with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Corken said Gregerson’s Facebook postings under a different name, emails and secretly recorded conversations revealed his allegiance to IS and praise for attacks in Paris and Orlando, Florida.
“It is chilling,” Corken told the judge.
Gregerson declined to speak in court. Defense attorney David Tholen said there’s no evidence of him targeting anyone for attack. He accused the government of “cherry-picking facts” and looking at his client with “tunnel vision.”
“Mr. Gregerson and everyone in the United States is entitled to unpopular speech,” Tholen said.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.