TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – A man who stockpiled weapons and ammunition at a northern Ohio shopping mall was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Thursday.
Prosecutors had contended that Richard Schmidt wanted to carry out a race war and was planning to assassinate black and Jewish leaders, but a federal judge who handed down the sentence said there wasn’t enough evidence to support that theory.
Schmidt amassed the guns and other survival gear such as freeze-dried food and bottled water because he was preparing for a potential doomsday calamity, not some sinister plan, his attorney said.
Federal agents discovered rifles, shotguns and 40,000 rounds of ammunition inside the mall where Schmidt ran a sports store and sold counterfeit NFL jerseys in Bowling Green, about 20 miles south of Toledo.
The FBI also found a list that included the names of black and Jewish leaders in Ohio and Michigan.
Schmidt, 48 of Toledo, could have received more than 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of firearms and trafficking in counterfeit goods in July.
But U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary instead sentenced him to nearly six years while also giving him credit for the year he has been behind bars since his arrest last December.
The judge said he was troubled by the amount of weapons Schmidt had stored, but said it was unclear why he amassed so much and that there was nothing to suggest he was plotting with others.
Schmidt told the judge he was a survivalist and was preparing for a natural disaster or economic collapse that could send the nation into chaos.
He also said he should not have written a list with the names of Jewish and black leaders that included addresses and other personal information, but added that he never planned to harm anyone as prosecutors alleged.
“I had no intent to do any of those things,” he said.
Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony, whose name was on the list, called the sentencing a travesty. He said he was unsure whether Schmidt would have targeted him or the others.
“Just having your name mentioned is bad enough,” he said.
Schmidt, who earlier had served time for a 1990 manslaughter conviction for killing a man in Toledo in what he said was self-defense, kept weapons, ammunition, body armor, writings about white supremacist groups, and a cot inside a storage room at the back of an empty store in the mall, prosecutors said.
Investigators also searched trailers he kept in the mall parking lot that they said were filled with gas canisters, gun parts, and other supplies.
Schmidt initially came under investigation over the sale of counterfeit clothing marked with brand names such as Nike and Reebok, prosecutors said. He used the profits to buy weapons and ammunition, they said.
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