Saturday, March 29, 2003

Autoworker receives nearly four years for plot to bomb steel mill

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - An autoworker who marveled at the World Trade Center damage done by airline fuel has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for plotting to bomb the locked-out AK Steel mill in Mansfield.

"I deeply regret its impact on others," Fred Frigo, 51, of Mansfield, told U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells on Thursday. "I deeply regret the shame and suffering it caused me and my family."

The judge gave him three years and nine months in prison. Prosecutors had expected a sentence of up to 31/2 years.

Frigo could have gotten up to 40 years. Federal sentencing guidelines take into account many factors, including whether a person takes responsibility for the crime.

Frigo was arrested a year ago, the day before the attack was to occur. Investigators said he was angry that the mill was using nonunion replacement workers.

He told a friend, Tony Walker, that he wanted to be a mercenary for the common worker and strike corporate America.

Walker, who worked with Frigo at the General Motors Corp. fabricating plant near Mansfield, became an informant for federal agents and collected the evidence that led to the arrest.

AK Steel locked out union workers in 1999, and tensions were high by September 2001.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the World Trade Center towers were destroyed by hijacked planes. "See what fuel can do," Frigo remarked gleefully at the time, according to Walker.

For Walker, life has been difficult since Frigo's arrest. His co-workers place cheese at his work station because they say he "ratted out" a fellow worker.

"I know I did the right thing, and I would do it again, even through all the nonsense," he said.

Frigo's attorney, Gordon Friedman, said his client was mentally unfit at the time of the plot. The judge ordered Frigo to cooperate with psychiatric treatment.

"The fact he's going to get some help is the most important thing," Friedman said.

According to court documents, Frigo talked of blasting a rocket into AK Steel and firing a .50-caliber rifle at a truck delivering oxygen.

His final plan was to have Walker drive his pickup truck to the plant. Frigo then would launch grenades from a .308-caliber assault rifle in the truck bed.

On March 28, 2002, the day before the planned attack, agents raided Frigo's home and seized an assault rifle, 8 pounds of gunpowder, a grenade and a launching rack.

They also found $13,440 in bogus $20 bills. Authorities say Frigo made the money himself with counterfeiting plates.

Frigo pleaded guilty in November to the weapons and counterfeiting charges. The plant lockout ended in December.

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