If federal prosecutors get their way next week, an aging white supremacist who bragged about being a serial bomber and who was convicted earlier this year of sending explosives to a city office in Arizona will never see the outside world again.
A jury in Phoenix found Dennis Mahon guilty in February on three charges related to the 2004 bombing in Scottsdale that injured three city employees, including the director of the Office of Diversity and Dialogue.
Now, with Mahon’s sentencing scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Arizona, prosecutors are asking Judge David Campbell to send the 61-year-old bomber to prison for the next 63 years, which would effectively mean he would die behind bars.
“The amount of premeditation in this case is stunning,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Boyle wrote in his sentencing recommendation filed late Thursday. He said Mahon “bought generic parts from different locations, assembled the bomb, devised a method to insure the survival of a note, wrote and attached labels to lure the victim into a false sense of security, devised a switch and packing to insure the bomb was not detected before it detonated, and wrote a will to memorialize that his actions were in memory of Bob Mathews and Timothy McVeigh.”
Mahon was tried alongside his twin brother Daniel Mahon, who prosecutors also alleged took part in the bombing. However, despite convicting Dennis on a conspiracy charge, the jury acquitted Daniel Mahon for the same count. He was set free and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
The investigation, led by special agent Tristan Moreland of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, took more than eight years and spanned several states. The back story sounds like something out of a movie script.
Investigators relied on a woman who went undercover and managed to get close to the brothers. She first met them when she and an undercover agent set up a camper in a trailer park in Catoosa, Okla., and hung a Confederate flag in the window. The brothers soon came over and introduced themselves to the woman.
After that, the woman, a civilian, acted as an informant for the feds and helped record audio and video of the brothers bragging about being behind numerous bombings throughout the nation.
Along the way, it became clear that the brothers were in close contact with and possibly inspired by Tom Metzger, one of the nation’s best known white supremacist leaders. Metzger at the time ran an association called the White Aryan Resistance, or WAR, that investigators say promoted the idea of its followers carrying out acts of violence as lone wolves so as to avoid detection by law enforcement. Metzger has denied ever advocating violence.
In 2009 federal authorities had enough evidence to arrest the two brothers who by then were living at their parents’ house in rural Illinois. On the same day, agents searched Metzger’s home in Warsaw, Ind., but never arrested the racist leader.
In requesting the tough sentence for Dennis Mahon, the prosecutor described the bombing as nothing less than “terrorism.”
He “did not merely speak in the abstract in favor of violence,” the prosecutor wrote. “He conspired to and committed actual acts of violence. Rather than express remorse after the Scottsdale bombing, (Mahon) took pride in his actions.”
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com