The first U.S. police officer to face charges of terrorism was sentenced on Friday.
Washington D.C. – A former D.C. Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) officer, convicted by a jury in December of 2017 for trying to help the Islamic State, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday.
Former Officer Nicholas Young, 38, lied for, and gave financial support to, a supposed Islamic State recruit who was actually an FBI informant, according to The Washington Post.
Young was the first member of U.S. law enforcement to ever face terrorism charges.
“I’m sorry for letting my friends down, letting my family down,” he said in court on Feb. 23. “Those people in my life deserved better from me.”
Young, who faced as many as 60 years in prison for his crimes, wrote a letter to Judge Leonie Brinkema prior to his sentencing.
“There is one thing that the government has not proven and will never prove: that I do not love my country and what it stands for,” he wrote.
Young was arrested in August of 2016, on charges of attempted material support for terrorism, and obstruction of justice.
He has said he was entrapped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
But authorities said the investigation into Young began much earlier, while he was serving as a police officer in the nation’s capital.
Fellow police officers described Young as strange, with an avid interest in history, and a passive approach to his job.
The Washington Post reported that Young never used his gun, baton, or pepper spray during the 13 years he was an MTPD officer.
Many of his fellow police officers were uncomfortable with his social media rants about the government and openness about being a Nazi reenactor. He also began to grow a long beard.
MTPD officials took their concerns to the FBI in 2008, but the agency did not begin investigating Young for another two years.
In 2011, Young openly used his paid leave from MTPD to help topple the Libyan government, twice, to join rebel groups in helping to overthrow the Libyan government under Gadhafi, according to WTTG.
Young was first contacted by the FBI in 2010 when an acquaintance, Zachary Chesser, was under investigation and ultimately convicted of trying to join an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group and threatening the creators of the popular television series “South Park.”
After that initial contact, Young remained on the FBI’s radar after he told an undercover officer that anyone who betrayed him would end up at the bottom of a lake, and bragged about his stockpile of weapons, police said.
The FBI’s big breakthrough in their investigation that led to their arrest of the police officer, occurred in 2014 when Young met and became friendly with a 20-year-old man who was actually an FBI informant in 2014.
He sent gift cards and codes on behalf of Mohammad, who told him it was the only way to reach his family, whom reportedly he believed were with ISIS.
The affidavit said Young was actually communicating with an undercover officer who thanked him for the codes by saying “May Allah reward you for efforts.”
Young replied “glad it came through…getting rid of device now…for real. Gonna eat the sim card. Have a good day.”
When they arrested Young, agents who searched his truck found a Kel-Tec .380 firearm, six hollow point bullets, $1,065 in cash, and a burner phone with clear tape over the camera aperture. Eighteen rifles and pistols were seized from his home.
Authorities said recorded conversations showed Young’s violent tendencies. He’d argued that terrorist attacks were “understandable reactions to Western aggression.”
During the trial, prosecutors said Young’s support for the Nazis was evidence he was predisposed to support terrorism before he was first contacted by their agents.
Young has denied the allegations, although he has a large tattoo on his left bicep of a SS unit’s logo.
His family has stood by him, and wrote letters to the court supporting him that said the man depicted by prosecutors was not the peaceable, tolerant and patriot person they knew, the Washington Post reported.
His mother, Joy Young, said Young’s maternal great-grandfather was Jewish and that her son had had a Jewish girlfriend, and that most of his friend at his police department were black.
The Washington Post reported that his mother the CIA until her son was born, and her father was an Air Force officer.
His sister, Ashley Young, wrote in her letter to the judge that Young struggled with depression for years, but that it got worse after his father died.
“When our father died, I saw the light inside Nick go dim,” she wrote.
“This was . . . born out of Nick Young’s loneliness,” Ashley Young said.
Prosecutors told they court they disagreed with his family’s assessment.
“The unfortunate fact is that he has an attraction to depravity that cannot rationally be explained,” they wrote.
“We expect police officers to protect and serve,” prosecutors John Gibbs and Gordon Kromberg wrote in court filings, according to the Washington Post.
“We do not expect them to thwart investigations of terrorist plots, or to advise others how to do so. We do not expect them to try to send money to terrorists, or advise others how to join,” they wrote.
At sentencing, the judge acknowledged the letters of support from Young’s family and friends, but said it wasn’t enough.
“You strike everybody as a very mild-mannered person. You present yourself as a patriot. We can’t look inside a human being. I have to look at the evidence,” Brinkema said.