Man, 26, gets 5-year term in abortion-clinic plot

December 19, 2006|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

GREENBELT -- A Prince George's County man who was so upset by the idea of terminating pregnancies that he plotted to blow up a Maryland abortion clinic and shoot people inside received a five-year prison sentence yesterday in federal court.

The proceeding in U.S. District Court here marked the end of the case for Robert F. Weiler Jr., 26, of Forestville, whose erratic behavior so alarmed his parents that they tipped off authorities this summer.

"We must continue to act quickly against anyone who plots to murder doctors or bomb abortion clinics," Rod J. Rosenstein, the Maryland U.S. attorney, said in a statement.

According to his attorney, Weiler has suffered from a long history of illness, including childhood cancer. At age 4, he needed to be forcibly restrained to undergo chemotherapy and, in the process, lost one of his kidneys.

That experience led to post-traumatic stress, said his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Michael CitaraManis. Weiler also has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity and bipolar disorders.

The prosecutor in the case and Weiler's attorney jointly recommended the five-year prison sentence to Judge Deborah K. Chasanow. Weiler had pleaded guilty to possessing a pipe bomb, being a felon in possession of a firearm and attempting to destroy or damage an abortion clinic.

"This is extremely dangerous behavior," Chasanow said before imposing the recommended sentence.

Weiler, who wore an anti-abortion T-shirt during a previous court appearance, declined to speak at yesterday's hearing.

On June 7, after receiving information from Weiler's father about his son's intentions, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked down Weiler by phone through a friend.

Weiler told them he was at a rest stop in Western Maryland and wanted to surrender; he gave authorities details about where he had hidden his homemade pipe bomb.

Agents arrested Weiler at the rest stop and recovered a loaded Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun from the car Weiler had been driving. A 2003 conviction in Utah state court for stealing $22 worth of gas and attempting to outrun authorities who pursued him made it a crime for Weiler to possess a firearm.

In the Maryland case, federal agents and Prince George's County police officers discovered the pipe bomb - consisting of a 1-inch diameter galvanized pipe, end caps, a pyrotechnic fuse and black powder - in a first-floor closet at a Riverdale home.

"From all indications, it appears he was acting alone," said Gregory K. Gant, the special agent in charge of the ATF's Baltimore field division. "In some ways, it could have been a bigger threat because it wasn't something we were tracking, and we didn't see it coming."

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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