Former Tennessee Congressional candidate Robert Doggart is facing new charges related to his plot to burn down a mosque and attack a Muslim community in New York.
Doggart was arrested in April on federal charges and pleaded guilty weeks later, but his plea deal has not yet been finalized. On Tuesday, Doggart was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of
soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws, the Justice Department announced.
He faces up to 10 years in prison on the new charge. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is now involved in the prosecution of the case.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Pleaded Guilty in April to Making Threats
Doggart pleaded guilty in April to interstate communication of threats. Prosecutors allege that Doggart planned to attack Islamberg, a small Muslim community in New York. Along with others, he sought to burn a mosque, school and a cafeteria. He made the plans through Facebook posts and on wiretapped telephone conversations.
The original plea agreement called for Doggart to face between 0 to 5 years in prison. The agreement was put on hold last week after a judge asked prosecutors to show that Doggart made a “true threat.”
Read more about the original case at the link below:
2. He Lost the Congressional Race, But Did Get More than 9,000 Votes
Doggart ran as an unaffiliated candidate in the 2014 election, but has conservative leanings, according to his now-deleted campaign website.
He finished in third place in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District race, behind the victorious incumbent, Republican Scott DesJarlais, and the Democratic challenger, according to The Tennessean.
He received 6 percent of the vote, about 9,200 votes, according to the Tennessee Secretary of the State.
Doggart wrote on Facebook about his campaign:
At this point, I believe the People favor the Independent. So, if this is correct, tell the “president” that “Doggart is Coming” to DC. I am smarter than him, love my Nation more than him, can work harder than him, will save our Country billions of dollars as I discover wasted projects, and will save lives by knowing how to implement an intelligent and fair foreign policy. I shall go wherever necessary, and carry whatever burden is required, for as long as I can. Last Saturday I was in Laredo, Texas, for a protest against Illegal Immigration. We had a bomb threat and a statement that “There will be bloodshed”. I stood in the middle of the Federal Reservation and proclaimed that “This is OUR Nation”, and we will not be frightened by criminals. That was for the second time. I will go again. And then there was the visit to Dover, Tennessee to fact-find whether or not a “jihadist” camp was in residence there. They were, but were benevolent. This story is long and hard, and I am tired of excuses and mistakes. Just like the rest of the American People. So, in short, I ask the People of the 4th District of Tennessee for their vote on November 4th. I shall not fail you, so help me God. And remember that the “president” will know that “Doggart is Coming”. He will find that this will be unpleasant, I can assure you all. And, I will not be corrupted.
3. The Former Engineer Said ‘If It’s Necessary to Die Then That’s a Good Way to Die’
Doggart was released on $30,000 bond to home confinement after the agreement was made. It’s not clear if he was re-arrested after the latest indictment.
Doggart said in conversations with an FBI informant and on wiretapped phone calls that his goal wasn’t to go to the Islamberg community to kill anyone, but to burn down buildings and send a message. But he wasn’t afraid of getting into a gun fight.
“If there’s a gun fight, well there’s a gun fight. And I want to come home ’cause I love my family and I want to see my kids again. But I also understand that if it’s necessary to die then that’s a good way to die,” Doggart said during a March phone conversation with an unnamed militia member from South Carolina.
He said in a recorded phone call that, “When we meet with this state, the people that we seek will know who we are. We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings.” He said if anybody attempts to “harm them in any way, “our standoff gunner will take them down from 350 yards. The standoff gunner would be me.”
According to the biography on his now-deleted campaign website, Doggart was born in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He attended Edison State College for his undergraduate degree and went on to get a master’s degree from LaSalle University. He also earned a Ph.D. from LaSalle in engineering management.
He is divorced and has four daughters and ten grandchildren. He says he has more than 40 years in the electrical generation business, working as an engineer, manager and superintendent. He worked for 17 year at the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned corporation that provides electrical generation.
Doggart served in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, including two years as a unit commander. He is also an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church (Congregational) and says he received two Presidential Awards for Pro-bono Lifetime Public Service “from Mr. Bush.”
Duggart’s attorney used his political experience, career, family and accomplishments as an argument for his release on bond until sentencing. Duggart was originally held in custody until he entered his guilty plea at the end of April. The defense then asked for his release and it was granted by the judge. The government appealed, but the judge upheld the ruling.
His attorney says his client has physical, including chronic pain, and mental impairments, including depression and an unspecified personality disorder. He is receiving psychological treatment as part of the requirements of his supervised release.
4. The Case Has Drawn Outcry from the Muslim-American Community
The case has drawn outcry from the Muslim-American community, including those who live in the intended target, Islamberg. They say the government has not prosecuted Doggart harshly enough and that the case would be different if Doggart was a Muslim terrorism suspect.
“It is deeply troubling that an individual who has admitted to planning a religiously-motivated terror attack on American Muslims is now free, while the intended targets of his plot remain unprotected,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a statement. “We urge authorities to place Mr. Doggart in custody until this case is resolved, and failing that, to offer protection to his intended targets.”
5. He Was the Keynote Speaker at a Protest Outside the White House Last October
After Doggart’s loss in the 2014 Congressional race, he became somewhat of a champion for an group that rallied outside the White House in October, calling for a revolution. He expressed his anti-Muslim beliefs in that video, which was posted on YouTube:
He also appeared on the online radio show Reach Out America in March, and was billed as a “presidential hopeful.”