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White supremacist pleads guilty to threatening Pittsburgh synagogue shooting jurors and witnesses

PITTSBURGH — White supremacist Hardy Lloyd could spend more than six years in federal prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to threatening jurors and witnesses in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial, federal officials said.

Lloyd, 45, ran a prolific and hateful website that, for much of the spring and summer, took aim at the prosecutors, witnesses, victims and jurors in the case. The three-month trial culminated in early August with a death sentence for shooter Robert Bowers.

The shooter killed 11 congregants, and the 2018 killings remain the deadliest attack on the Jewish faith in U.S. history.

In myriad website posts and emails to Pittsburgh media members, Lloyd called for violence against Pittsburgh's Jewish community and threatened to expose and dox jurors in the case.

"Mr. Lloyd thought he could get away with making threats against members of a jury to influence their decisions, and now he'll be accountable for his actions," said Mike Nordwall, special agent in charge of Pittsburgh's FBI field office, which also covers West Virginia.

As part of the plea agreement, Lloyd, a self-proclaimed reverend of white supremacy, must admit that he targeted the jury and witnesses because they were Jewish or, in the case of the jury, trying a man who targeted Jews.

In a series of emails and blog posts that escalated as the death penalty trial against Bowers progressed, Lloyd called for so-called lone wolves to target synagogues and Jews.

"Walk into a synagogue and gun down 11 Jews and one rabbi," he wrote in late May. "That's how you make a difference, people."

Lloyd also took aim at jurors in the case, writing in one website post: "Y'all who are on the jury, make sure to vote what you know in your heart is morally correct."

In another email, he expressed a desire to obtain jurors' names after the proceedings.

"Hope the jurors get told that and vote the right way," he wrote.

Lloyd also made multiple trips to Pittsburgh from his Follansbee, W.Va., home to place antisemitic and racist stickers on public property across the city.

"Mr. Lloyd's worst go far beyond speech that is protected by the constitution and cannot be tolerated," Special Agent Nordwall said.

Federal officials applauded the arrest and subsequent plea.

"He tried to undermine our system of justice by targeting the Jewish community and now will pay a steep price for his abhorrent conduct," U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Lloyd's plea should be an example for others who might try to use hate to intimidate, saying it "underscores that anyone who attempts to obstruct a federal trial by threatening or intimidating jurors or witnesses will be met with the full force of the Justice Department."

Lloyd is no stranger to the federal system.

His federal court saga in Pittsburgh began in 2009 when he was indicted on a federal charge of carrying firearms without a license. He pleaded guilty and received a 30-month prison sentence plus supervised release. The terms of his release were modified in 2015 to forbid him from owning a computer or cell phone.

A judge revoked his release in 2016 after his blog targeted someone he called "a bigot promoting anti-white hate." He was set back to prison for 14 months.

Similar cycles played out in 2017 and 2019: Lloyd was released, violated the terms of that release with bigoted and antisemitic internet posts, and sentenced to more time in federal prison and more supervised release. In 2019, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison. He was released in late 2020.

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