After denying motions for new trials or outright acquittals, a Cook County judge on Friday sentenced three NATO summit protesters to between five and eight years in prison.
Jared Chase received eight years for a possession of an incendiary device, Brian Church received five years for the same charge and Brent Betterly got six years. They each received 30 days for mob action.
"The defendants are not the three musketeers," Judge Thaddeus Wilson said, "but they were not the three stooges."
Known as the "NATO 3," Church, 22, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Chase, 29, of Keane, N.H.; and Vincent Betterly, 25, of Oakland Park, Fla., were accused of plotting Molotov cocktail attacks on several high-profile targets during the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.
"I'm not a perfect person," Church told the judge before sentencing, "and like other human beings, I've made mistakes."
"We weren't serious about what we said," Betterly said. "They were just words. Because of those transgressions, I've lost two years of my life."
Heading into Friday's sentencing, Cook County prosecutors wanted a 14-year prison term for Chase, Church and Betterly. They call the men dangerous and deserving of stiff punishment.
But Chase's attorneys call the case a "terribly politicized prosecution." They suggest the terrorism charges tainted their client as a menace even though he was acquitted of those charges.
"No matter what they do in other countries," Judge Thaddeus Wilson said, "Americans will not stand for throwing Molotov cocktails in the street."
Jurors in February acquitted the activists of ominous-sounding terrorism charges brought under a rarely used Illinois statute. They convicted them of lesser counts of misdemeanor mob action and possession of an incendiary device to commit arson.