Orange Park man pleads guilty in 9/11 memorial terror plot case

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Clay County man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a count of attempted malicious damage and destruction by an explosive of a building for his role in a suspected terror plot targeting a 9/11 memorial ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri.

Joshua Ryne Goldberg, 22, of Orange Park, agreed to plead guilty to that felony count at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville as part of a deal reached with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Goldberg faces up to 20 years in a federal institution, but the recommended punishment is eight years. In addition, he faces a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

The plea deal bookends a case that was placed on hold two years ago when Goldberg was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial. U.S. District Judge James Klindt found him competent in April.

Goldberg was accused of providing a co-conspirator with detailed instructions to produce a bomb for the attack similar to the pressure cooker-based devices used in the Boston Marathon bombings.

In reality, the man's co-conspirator was an undercover informant working for the FBI. Court documents show investigators traced the pair's online correspondence back to Goldberg.

Federal agents arrested Goldberg at home Sept. 10, 2015, on charges of distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.

In court, Goldberg acknowledged planning the attack on a ceremony honoring those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and admitted plotting a terror attack in Australia as well.

He also admitted posting a tweet urging people to carry out an attack on a May 2015 exhibit in Garland, Texas, where caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad were on display.

That tweet was later shared by one of the gunmen who opened fire at the exhibit, wounding a security guard before both attackers were shot and killed by police.

Goldberg has been in custody at a federal institution in Butner, North Carolina since a psychiatric evaluation found he was mentally ill. He's expected to serve his sentence there.

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