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Man sentenced to 28 years for plotting to bomb federal courthouse

By Terry Frieden, CNN
  • Michael Finton was arrested in 2009 in an FBI sting operation
  • He thought he was setting off a truck bomb at a federal courthouse in Illinois
  • He pleaded guilty Monday to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction

Washington (CNN) -- An Illinois man who tried to blow up the federal courthouse in Springfield two years ago was sentenced Monday to 28 years in prison, the Justice Department announced.

Michael Finton, 31, who went by the name Talib Islam, pleaded guilty in a courthouse in East St. Louis to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The charge stems from an incident in September 2009 when Finton, then 29, parked a truck which he believed contained about one ton of explosives near the courthouse in Springfield.

What he didn't know was that the man assisting him in the operation was an undercover FBI agent, and that the material in the truck was inert.

When Finton tried to trigger the explosion from a cell phone at a safe distance, he was arrested.

"Michael Finton is one of a number of young Americans over the past two years who, under the influence of a radical and violent ideology, have sought to carry out acts of terrorism in the United States," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Todd Hinnen at the Justice Department.

Hinnen credited the FBI with discovering the plot and planning the sting operation that led to Finton's arrest.