Man gets 30 months in abortion bomb plot
By Shavonne Potts
GREENSBORO — A former Rowan County resident who pleaded guilty last year to giving bomb-making instructions to an FBI informant was sentenced Wednesday morning to 30 months in federal prison.
Justin Carl Moose, 26, believed he was helping the man plan an attack on a women’s health clinic where abortions were performed. The Planned Parenthood Association alerted authorities after discovering that Moose was “advocating extreme violence” against such clinics on his Facebook page, court records say.
Moose, who graduated from South Rowan High School but lived in Concord when the crime occurred, faced up to 20 years and faced a $250,000 fine after agreeing in November to plead to a charge of distributing information pertaining to the manufacturing and use of an explosive.
His lack of a prior criminal record figured into the sentence he received.
Moose, who appeared in a federal courtroom Wednesday unshaven and wearing gray sweats, expressed remorse for his actions.
“I messed up. I admit that 100 percent. The stuff I was doing was not right. My beliefs and opinions were not correct. I severely regret it. I’ve ruined my life, brought shame to my family and dishonor to my name and I can’t take that back,” Moose said.
An affidavit filed by an FBI agent said the agency had a confidential informant contact Moose after learning of his Facebook page, on which he called himself an “extremist radical fundamentalist”and said abortion should be opposed “by any means necessary and at any cost.”
The informant sent messages to Moose and held several phone conversations. The two met at TGI Fridays in Concord, where Moose offered advice on how to make bombs, conduct surveillance on the clinic, and avoid being caught.
Federal Judge Thomas D. Schroeder told Moose he clearly provided information about how to create an explosive device.
He told Moose his behavior was something that developed over time.
“You don’t have a criminal history. I was struck by your school performance,” the judge said.
Moose was a good student at South Rowan.
“You are clearly a capable person. This seemed to be out of character for you,” Schroeder said.
The judge later said Moose seemed to show genuine remorse.
The judge sentenced Moose to have a mental health evaluation and alcohol/substance abuse treatment. Upon release from prison, Moose will be on supervised probation for three years and pay $100 in fines. While on probation, he must submit to random drug tests and participate in both a substance abuse and mental health treatment program.
He is also not to possess a computer or an electronic device that may enable him to access the Internet unless approved by his probation officer.
While not part of his sentence, Schroeder suggested Moose talk to a minister or priest about his “strong feelings” and the views he expressed on Facebook.
“I certainly think it would be worth your while from a theological standpoint. It’s certainly a recommendation,” the judge said.
Moose’s attorney, Walter Holton Jr., presented two character witnesses who testified on his client’s behalf.
Richard Rouse, who teaches Sunday School at the church Moose attended, Royal Oaks Baptist in Kannapolis, has known Moose and his wife, Jennifer, for a few years. Rouse told the court Moose had even filled in for him to teach Sunday School.
Holton asked Rouse his reaction to hearing the news of Moose’s arrest.
“I was totally shocked, sir,” Rouse said.
Rouse told the court he and his wife plan to maintain contact with and support Justin and Jennifer Moose.
Dolly Moose, Justin’s grandmother, talked about his upbringing. She and her husband, John Wayne Moose, raised Justin.
“He was always real curious about things. He was very intelligent,” Dolly Moose said.
She said her grandson seemed ahead of his peers intellectually.
At the age of 15, he got his first job on a tomato farm. He later worked in the maintenance department at Davidson Community College. He attended Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, where he studied to be a mechanic. Moose also worked at Auto Zone, but eventually returned to the maintenance department at Davidson, where he worked the second shift by himself.
“They created a position for him,” Dolly said.
Moose’s grandmother said he never gave her or his grandfather trouble, but sometime around age 16 he began to struggle with depression. After that, he was treated on and off for depression.
A doctor told Dolly and John their grandson had symptoms of Asperger syndrome.
“He didn’t know how to socialize,” Dolly said.
Moose’s attorney said his client began drinking a lot, but quit in March 2010.
“This whole incident has been a surprise to his whole family,” Holton said.
The attorney also said he’s had several conversations with Moose, who has accepted responsibility and admitted it was a “path he knows was wrong.”
The judge asked what happened to a man who had a grade point average of 3.5-4.0 in school and who also seemed very intelligent.
“He started on a downward spiral,” Holton said of his client.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Green, who prosecuted the case, said Moose initially did not speak to authorities, but later fully cooperated.
Schroeder asked Green if the government had any evidence that Moose had ever plotted to bomb an abortion clinic prior to this crime. Green said no.
“But it is clear he had the knowledge. The government does not have specific evidence that he engaged in this manner before,” Green said.
According to an affidavit, Moose told an FBI informant he was a member of the group the Army of God, which he called a “phantom cell organization.”
“I have set up groups,” he told the informant, “I train people and this is not my first rodeo.”
Other relatives were present in court, but neither they nor Moose’s attorney offered any comment after the hearing.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.