ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia man with ties to a violent neo-Nazi group was sentenced Friday to a year in prison for weapons violations.
Andrew Jon Thomasberg, 21, of McLean, acknowledged as part of a plea bargain last year in federal court that he bought a semiautomatic rifle for another person and that he possessed weapons while abusing psychedelic drugs.
Court papers show Thomasberg joked in text messages about the juxtaposition of drug use and neo-Nazi ideology.
“Yo im gonna start tripping again. Psychedelic Nazis,” Thomasberg wrote in one message. In another, he wrote: “Theres nothing more Aryan than entheogenic drug use. Drug addiction is untermensch.” “Untermensch” is a term that Nazis used for people they considered to be racially inferior.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, though, Thomasberg apologized and said when questioned by the judge that he’s renouncing his racist ideology.
“This has been a very humbling experience,” he said. “My life will not resume the same way.”
Prosecutors say Thomasberg was a leader and recruiter for a Virginia-based cell of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group that seeks to incite race war and has been linked to several killings.
Thomasberg is one of more than a dozen people with ties to Atomwaffen who has faced federal charges since the group was formed in 2016.
On Wednesday, prosecutors in Alexandria announced charges against an alleged Atomwaffen leader from Texas. He is accused of conspiring to phone in bomb threats to targets in Virginia and across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, prosecutors in Seattle charged four alleged Atomwaffen members and leaders with conspiring to intimidate journalists and others by making their addresses public and sending them swastika-laden posters informing them “You have been visited by your local Nazis.”
Prosecutors sought an 18-month term for Thomasberg, which was at the upper end of what is recommended under federal sentencing guidelines. In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said his neo-Nazi affiliation, while not itself illegal, should be taken into account because it shows his willingness to engage in violence.
“While the defendant has a constitutional right to his own viewpoints and associations, these associations, when viewed in light of the defendant’s criminal conduct, are alarming,” prosecutor Anthony Mariano wrote.
Thomasberg’s lawyer asked that he be released with time served since his September arrest. When Thomasberg made his initial appearance in court last year, his mother said after the hearing that the FBI was unfairly targeting “a rich, white kid.”