ROCHESTER — For the first time in the history of Monroe County, defendants are charged with a section of the law enacted just after 9/11.
Three of the four young men accused of plotting to bomb an Islamic community near Binghamton are facing multiple conspiracy and weapons possessions charges "as a crime of terrorism."
Greece Police say the men had built and were building homemade bombs to blow up near Islamberg, New York. Police say they found at least two functional bombs in the basement of the home of defendant Vincent Vetromile in Greece.
Vetromile, Brian Colaneri, and Andrew Crysel pleaded not guilty in front of Monroe County Court Judge Sam Valleriani Thursday morning.
As a result of the terrorism link to the charges, the class of the weapons charges increased to the highest level, a Class A felony, and a maximum prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Because of that, the bail of each of the three men in court Thursday changed.
Vetromile and Colaneri, who were already in jail, are now held without bail until there is a hearing with their lawyers.
Andrew Crysel was out on bond. On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Matt Schwartz asked the court to increase his bail to $1 million.
In arguing against the bail increase, Crysel's defense attorney Jason Housel said, "My client has no criminal record, is 18 years old, and has made all of his court appearances, your honor, both in Greece and is here today."
Monroe County Court Judge Sam Valleriani made his decision: "I'm not going to set bail in the amount requested by the people" but added "distinction of the class of the felony that came out of the indictment being an A felony, with the maximum penalty of 25 to life, I think that is a significant change in circumstances that I think warrant a change in the defendant's bail status."
A 16-year-old defendant is in custody. Because of his age, his case is being handled in Family Court.
The three older defendants are due back in court Thursday, March 14 for a routine hearing to set up a schedule of hearings before a trial.
According to Schwartz, the difference between possession of a weapon and possessing a weapon as a crime of terrorism is "that the person is alleged to have committed the crime, but with the added element that it was done so with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." The state created the law after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, allowing prosecutors to attach a terrorism link to existing crimes. He said he has never prosecuted this crime before.