Brothers Sentenced for Calif. Fires

The Associated Press/November 30, 2001
By Don Thompson

Sacramento, Calif. -- Two white supremacist brothers were sentenced to long federal prison terms Friday and ordered to pay $1 million each for setting fires at three synagogues and an abortion clinic in 1999.

Benjamin Matthew Williams received a mandatory sentence of 30 years in prison under the guilty plea he entered in September. His younger brother, James Tyler Williams, was sentenced to 21 years, 3 months - the maximum.

The brothers also face trial in April on state murder charges in the slayings of a gay couple in Shasta County in 1999. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Benjamin Matthew Williams received a longer sentence because he planned the arsons.

The blazes caused more than $3 million in damage to the Congregation B'Nai Israel and Kenesset Israel Torah Center, both in Sacramento, and the Congregation Beth Shalom in Carmichael. The pair also pleaded guilty to setting fire to Country Club Medical Center, which houses an abortion clinic.

Since his arrest, Benjamin Matthew Williams repeatedly professed anti-Semitic, anti-gay and white supremacist views, and has said his defense in the upcoming murder case will be based on his belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

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