Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Plotting Power Grid Attack with Neo-Nazi

A Maryland woman has pleaded guilty to conspiring with a neo-Nazi leader from Florida to plan an attack targeting the power grid around Baltimore.

Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 36, of Catonsville admitted in her guilty plea that she and her alleged co-conspirator Brandon Russell believed sniper attacks on five electrical substations would “serve to break down society.”

Clendaniel faces up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge to damage electrical facilities when she is sentenced on September 3 by U.S. District Judge James Bredar. She also pleaded guilty to a firearms charge punishable by up to 15 years.

Russell, a formerly incarcerated founder of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, is charged in the same conspiracy plot and awaits trial. Prosecutors say the two developed a romantic relationship around 2018 while imprisoned separately and shared a white supremacist “accelerationist” ideology advocating societal collapse through mass violence.

In 2017, one of Russell’s roommates killed two others at their Florida apartment that Russell claimed was to thwart a terror attack planned by Atomwaffen members. Russell wasn’t charged in the murders but did plead guilty to federal explosives charges from the incident.

According to court documents, Clendaniel and Russell discussed their Baltimore power grid sabotage plans with a government informant in January 2023. The aim was to cause widespread disruption by crippling the region’s electrical infrastructure.