A Minnesota member of the Boogaloo Bois extremist group was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday after pleading guilty to a plot to leverage unrest after the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in hopes of raising money for the antigovernment movement.
Michael Robert Solomon, 32, of New Brighton admitted in May 2021 to selling silencers and other firearm components in 2020 to people he believed were members of the Hamas terror group but who turned out to be FBI informants.
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said the sentence is lower than the 10 years requested by the prosecution because Solomon gave "substantial assistance to the government." Solomon provided information that led to the shutdown and arrest of a gun conversion device vendor based in West Virginia. Such devices, known as auto sears, can modify handguns into assault-style weapons.
Davis also sentenced Solomon to serve five years of supervised release and imposed several conditions, including: He is prohibited access to dangerous weapons, must submit to periodic polygraph testing and must have pre-approval to use computers and social media accounts.
The prosecution originally requested a 20-year sentence, followed by a lifetime on supervised release, but revised its request to 10 years after Solomon cooperated with investigators. "Mr. Solomon's information was certainly instrumental in identifying and taking down that website," Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said in court Thursday.
The website's owner, Timothy John Watson of Ranson, W.Va., received a five-year sentence in October. Federal prosecutors said at the time that Watson, 32, sold auto sears devices to nearly 800 people.
Federal prosecutors said one of his customers was Steven Carrillo, who recently pleaded guilty to shooting two federal security officers in Oakland, Calif. One of the officers died.
Throughout Thursday's proceedings, Davis compared Solomon's case to those of other terrorism cases that have been sentenced, all at a lower level than the prosecution's request. "Even if you are a bad guy," he told Solomon, "there are other bad guys out there that are doing way less time."
Solomon was one of four men charged since September 2020 to have been identified as members of the Boogaloo Bois, an armed anti-government group that rose in prominence amid the 2020 protests over COVID-19 shutdowns and police brutality.
Addressing the court, Solomon expressed regret for his actions, growing emotional as he read a prepared statement.
"I'm embarrassed at the actions I made," he said. "I'm shocked I ever let myself make those decisions, but I can and I do promise that I will never allow that to happen again."
He said he could never make up for the pain he'd caused his 6-year-old daughter, his parents and loved ones. In the gallery, Solomon's mother wept, her husband's arm wrapped tightly around her shoulder.
Co-defendant Benjamin Ryan Teeter pleaded guilty to the plot in December 2020. The 23-year-old traveled from North Carolina in response to a Facebook post from Solomon urging fellow Boogaloo Bois members to join him in the protests after Floyd's death. Teeter is scheduled to be sentenced April 7.
Solomon previously said he was aware of five Boogaloo Bois members who traveled to Minneapolis after reading his post to provide armed security for Black Lives Matter protesters. He estimated that about 120 people were part of a Minnesota-related Boogaloo Bois Facebook group in 2020.
After the riots subsided, Solomon said, group members began discussing ways to raise money for its cause. They connected with an FBI informant posing as a Hamas member and agreed to supply silencers and devices that convert rifles into fully automatic weapons.
While pleading guilty, Solomon told Davis that the Boogaloo Bois discussed buying a training facility in South America.
Solomon and Teeter were also accused of plotting to bomb a courthouse in Minnesota before changing their target to an unspecified courthouse in the Twin Cities. They were arrested before carrying out their plan.
When discussing future targets for the Boogaloo Bois, according to prosecutors, Solomon expressed a desire to kill politicians and media executives.
Two other Boogaloo members have been prosecuted in Minnesota since 2020.
Ivan Harrison Hunter, 24, the self-proclaimed leader of the South Texas Boogaloo, pleaded guilty in September to firing an AK-47-style rifle into the burning Third Precinct police headquarters while people were inside during rioting after Floyd's death. He also looted the building and helped set it ablaze, according to prosecutors. Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced by Davis on April 4.
Michael Paul Dahlager, 28, of St. Cloud was sentenced in January to two years in prison for illegally possessing auto sears. He told a government informant of his plan to attack the State Capitol on Jan. 17, 2021, the day that a group of President Donald Trump supporters planned to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to court documents.