A 17-year-old pleaded guilty Monday to one charge of attempting to provide support and resources to terrorists in a plot against the Pope, according to court documents.
Santos Colon Jr. of Lindenwold, New Jersey, allegedly attempted to plan an attack against Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September 2015. He pleaded guilty as an adult in New Jersey district court and could face up to 15 years in prison, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
From June to August 2015, Colon tried to plan an attack for the Pope’s upcoming visit, court documents state. Colon’s plot required hiring a sniper to shoot the Pope during the Papal mass and planned to set off explosives around the event, according to the press release.
In order to complete this mission, he connected with someone he believed would be the sniper, but later discovered was an undercover FBI employee. He instructed this supposed sniper to purchase materials that would make explosive devices, according to the press release.
Colon was arrested by the FBI in 2015 when he was 15 years old. He waived an indictment and is being charged on one count of information for attempting to provide “material support and resources … including services and personnel, to a terrorist, knowing and intending that material support would be used in preparation for and in carrying out an attempt to kill a foreign official,” according to court documents.
Along with potential prison time, he could face a fine of $250,000 or twice the total amount of any financial gain or loss from the offense, according to the press release.
Nothing has been stated in court or noted in court documents that explains Colon’s motive for the attempted plot, according to spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office of New Jersey, William Skaggs.
The case is being prosecuted by U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey R. Stephen Stigall. Colon is represented by federal public defender Richard Coughlin. Coughlin did not return a message left seeking comment.
No date has been set for the sentencing, according to the press release.