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Bomber Sounds Warning Before 55-Year Sentence

Convicted bomber Brian Ratigan was sent to prison for 55 years Tuesday after delivering a public warning that investigators say sounded like a confession.

Ratigan was convicted by a federal jury last summer of bombing a Planned Parenthood clinic and robbing a Spokane Valley bank on July 12, 1996.

He and three other former Sandpoint, Idaho, men - Charles Barbee, Robert S. Berry and Verne Jay Merrell - were self-proclaimed “Phineas priests.”

Witnesses testified the men believed they were following God’s law in committing the acts of domestic terrorism.

Ratigan, 39, elaborated on his religious beliefs when he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen.

Bank robbery is not a crime, Ratigan told the judge, because banks charge interest and usury is immoral in God’s eyes.

“For our Creator, there’s no such thing as a bank, so there’s no such thing as a bank robbery,” Ratigan said.

Bombing an abortion clinic also is not a crime, he said, because abortions break the Ten Commandments. “It’s murder.”

The judge interrupted.

“Mr. Ratigan, why don’t we discuss the issue of your sentence?” Nielsen asked.

But Ratigan wasn’t interested in the sentence from a court and a government he doesn’t recognize. He called the judge a representative of the “prince of darkness.”

“I don’t recognize your system,” Ratigan said. “Your Babylon is going to fall. It doesn’t need a militia. It doesn’t need Phineas priests. It’s going to fall by its own evilness.

“People of Spokane, you have been warned,” Ratigan continued. “You have been sent four witnesses. Babylon is about to fall. The Messiah, Yashua, is on his way, so repent.”

Ratigan was convicted after prosecution witnesses testified that he implicated himself in the robbery and bombing.

“This sounds like another confession, doesn’t it?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice said after Tuesday’s sentencing.

Under federal laws, the judge had very little discretion in the sentence he gave Ratigan.

He gave him a mandatory 30 years in prison for using a bomb at the Planned Parenthood clinic, and another 20 years for using a firearm during a bank robbery.

For three other convictions, he was ordered to spend an additional 63 months in prison, consecutive to the 50 mandatory years.

The judge also ordered that any money Ratigan might make from jobs in prison must be used to compensate victims.

When the judge asked if any victims wanted to speak, only Ratigan’s two sons, Joshua, 12, and Taylor, 11, stood.

The boys separately read brief statements, claiming the government had wrongly convicted their father and destroyed their family.

Immediately after the sentencing, federal marshals moved Ratigan from the Spokane County Jail to a federal prison in SeaTac, near Seattle.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo