Convicted felon to plead guilty to BB gun attacks on Planned Parenthood in Pasadena
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former convicted felon who was convicted of assaulting a woman with a BB gun pleaded guilty on Monday to a scheme to bomb Planned Parenthood clinics in two states.
John Cossack, who was sentenced in June for the attacks in Montana and California, is scheduled to appear in a federal court in Oklahoma over the next few weeks.
He pleaded guilty to a single felony count of interstate transportation of a firearm, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors say Cossack used a BB gun to fire multiple explosive devices at the clinics in January. The clinic in the Redlands area, near the California border, was badly damaged by the attacks, causing the evacuation of nearly 200 people.
Cossack’s previous attorney, a federal public defender who refused to comment, previously said Cossack had taken responsibility for his crimes and planned to cooperate with authorities.
Planned Parenthood, an abortion group, said in a statement that the attacks were “cowardly” and “an affront to any person who believes abortion is a safe healthcare choice.”
The organization’s president, Cecile Richards, said she was “gratified and honored to join thousands of like-minded citizens across the country in sending a direct message to this man: don’t ever think for one moment that you can get away with this.”
Cossack, a man of Ukrainian origin who has long been a resident of Eastern Montana, went to state prison last year after being convicted of a 2008 attack on a woman that wounded her. Since then, he had been incarcerated in other states for failing to report a sexual assault to authorities.
The United States Attorney’s Office in Montana has said it is investigating whether Cossack was linked to other attacks on abortion clinics in the state.
If Cossack goes to trial, he would be the first person charged under the obscure federal law known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Criminal cases often involve allegations that a defendant’s actions were influenced by gang loyalty or drug dealing, but the law is broad enough to encompass even a petty crime such as a simple shoplifting.
Cossack’s case came days after a similar attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was described as a hate crime.