Would-be Pier 39 attacker gets 15 years in prison

A 27-year-old Modesto man who admitted planning a potential Christmas Day terrorist attack on Pier 39 in San Francisco last year was sentenced in federal court in Fresno Monday to 15 years in prison.

Everitt Jameson, a former tow truck driver, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill for his conviction on one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State organization.

Jameson pleaded guilty to the charge in January. In his guilty plea, he admitted he believed he was attempting to aid the Islamic State when he suggested the attack and offered to help carrying it out.

In fact, Jameson began developing the never-completed plan through emails and text messages with a confidential FBI source in the fall of 2017 and then with an FBI agent posing as an Islamic State supporter.

The 15-year sentence was agreed to by prosecution and defense in his plea bargain.

The investigation began when the FBI noticed last fall that Jameson was posting “Like” and “Love” notices on Facebook posts that were pro-Isis and pro-terrorist.

The confidential source, posing as a woman sympathetic to the Islamic State group, began contacting him in October. Jameson told the source he had converted to Islam two years earlier and was trained as a sharpshooter in the Marines.

Later, an undercover agent posing as a “brother” in the cause took over and discussed the plan in a meeting in the agent’s car on Dec. 16 and in additional messages over the next two days.

During those conversations, according to the plea agreement, Jameson suggested Pier 39 as the target location and said Christmas Day was the “perfect day” for the attack. He said he knew how to build a pipe bomb and could get the materials to do so.

Jameson told the undercover agent Pier 39 was a good target because it was crowded and explosives could be used to funnel people into an area so that he could inflict casualties by shooting people trying to escape, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

Jameson was arrested at his Modesto home on Dec. 20 and charged in a criminal complaint with the count of attempting to give material support to a terrorist organization. The Islamic State has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

In early January, a grand jury indictment added a second count of distributing information about destructive devices. The second count was dropped as part of his plea bargain.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Demers, who heads the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said in statement, “There is no place in the United States for terrorists and terrorist sympathizers who threaten innocent people, and the National Security Division will relentlessly seek to identify them and bring them to justice.”

Jameson’s defense lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Charles Lee, said Jameson was despondent and in a “dark place” when he sent the messages last fall.

Lee said that during the sentencing today, he explained that Jameson grew up in a dysfunctional family and enlisted in the Marines at age 17 because “he had a dream of serving his country” and was in boot camp at age 18.

But after completing his training, Jameson suffered a bee sting, was hospitalized and was discharged from the military for having failed to disclose his asthma history.

Later, Lee said, Jameson had a difficult marriage and learned he lost parental rights to his two children shortly before he began communicating with the confidential informant.

Lee said Jameson accepted the plea deal and 15-year sentence because he risked a potential maximum 40-year sentence if he had gone to trial and been convicted on both counts in the indictment.