GAINESVILLE, Ga. — A jury found two Georgia men guilty on Friday of plotting to make the poison ricin in what prosecutors described as a plan to target federal government officials.
The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before finding Ray Adams, 57, and Samuel Crump, 71, guilty on two counts against them. The verdict came after nearly two weeks of testimony before U.S. District Judge Richard Story in Gainesville.
Adams and Crump were found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to possess and produce a biological toxin for use as a weapon and one count each of possession of a biological toxin for use as a weapon. Adams had also been charged with attempted possession of biological toxin for use as a weapon but was acquitted on that count.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. No sentencing date has been set.
During his closing argument, prosecutor Bill McKinnon set evidence on a table in front of the jury that included an identical ricin recipe found at both defendants' homes; shelled castor beans, the main ingredient in ricin, found at both homes; acetone, an ingredient in ricin production, found at Adams' home; and rubber gloves to protect hands from the toxin found at Crump's home.
McKinnon then reminded the jury of secretly taped conversations from 2011 between a group of men that sometimes included Adams and Crump in which the men could be heard discussing their hatred of the federal government, the possibility of using ricin against government targets, their willingness to kill and steps they would need to take make the poison.
Defense attorneys had argued that their clients were talking big about their frustrations with the federal government but that they never had the intention or means to carry out an attack.
Adams' defense attorney Ed Tolley said the case was hard-fought.
"What that boils down to is if you have castor beans, you better not suggest you're going to do anything with them," Tolley said after the verdict.
Dan Summer, Crump's attorney, said he respected the jury's decision.
"They did what they thought was the right thing to do," he said. "All I can ask for is a fair trial and I believe the court gave us a fair trial."
McKinnon said after the verdict that he didn't immediately have a comment.
Adams and Crump were among four men arrested in November 2011 after recordings were made by an undercover informant who attended their meetings at homes, during car rides and at a Waffle House restaurant.
The other two men, Dan Roberts and Frederick Thomas, pleaded guilty in April 2012 to conspiring to get an unregistered explosive and an illegal gun silencer. Story sentenced them each to serve five years in prison.