CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (CN) – A federal jury convicted a Tennessee man Thursday of trying to hire someone else to burn down a mosque in New York.
Robert Doggart, 65, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., was found guilty of violating civil rights laws, soliciting another person to commit arson and threatening to destroy a building by fire or an explosive.
Prosecutors say Doggart planned an attack in early 2015 on Islamberg, N.Y., a hamlet outside of Hancock home to a large Muslim community. Evidence showed Doggart planned to burn down a mosque, school and cafeteria, and solicited others through Facebook posts, phone calls and in-person meetings.
Jurors in Chattanooga heard recorded phone calls between Doggart and potential accomplices, including one in which he said, “I don’t want to have to kill children, but there’s always collateral damage.” He also described his weapons as meant for killing people, not hunting.
Doggart, a former engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority, reportedly talked about burning the mosque down or blowing it up with a Molotov cocktail.
The jury reached its guilty verdict after two full days of deliberation.
Doggart faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the four counts he was convicted of when he is sentenced on May 31.
Tom Wheeler, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, thanked the Chattanooga jurors and said in a statement prosecutors “will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s laws that protect the ability of people of all faiths to live and worship in peace.”