FRESNO — Donny Eugene Mower, 38, of Madera, was sentenced in federal court Monday after his October 2011 guilty pleas to one count of arson, one count of damaging religious property and one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to damage the property of a reproductive health services facility.
The charges stem from Mower’s lighting a fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic and throwing a brick at a mosque in Madera.
Mower was sentenced by Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Mower was also ordered to pay more than $26,000 in restitution.
When Mower pleaded guilty in October 2011, he admitted that in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2010, he constructed a Molotov cocktail by stuffing a fuel-soaked cloth into a beer bottle. He then drove to Madera Planned Parenthood Clinic, lit the Molotov cocktail and threw it through a ground-floor window of the clinic. As a result of the ensuing fire, the clinic sustained more than $26,000 of damage and had to close for two days, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office.
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Mower also acknowledged that on Aug. 20, 2010, two days after placing a sign in front of Masjid Madera that read “No temple for the god of terrorism at ground zero. ANB,” he threw a brick at the front of the mosque and damaged its facade. On Aug. 24, 2010, Mower left additional signs at the mosque, stating “Wake up America, the enemy is here” and “American Nationalist Brotherhood.” Mower admitted that he threw the brick at Masjid Madera because of the race, color or ethnic characteristics of the individuals associated with the mosque. “This sentence sends a powerful message that the Justice Department will not tolerate violent interference with the lawful work of reproductive health clinics or attacks on places of worship of all faiths,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division, said in the news release. “The Department of Justice remains committed to protecting our communities from such violence and will continue to aggressively prosecute these acts.”
“Those who resort to threats and violence to intimidate others in the free exercise of their rights will attract the full force of federal law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California. “Mr. Mower not only attempted to burn a clinic that lawfully provided reproductive health services, he tried to intimidate and incite hatred against Muslim Americans. As the sentence imposed today indicates, victims of such offenses have an ally not only in the Justice Department, but in federal law.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Madera Police Department and the Madera County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elana Landau for the Eastern District of California and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.