Legal analysis: Feds coming down hard on Cornell to send message - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Legal analysis: Feds coming down hard on Cornell to send message

Christopher L. Cornell (Photo from the Boone County Jail) Christopher L. Cornell (Photo from the Boone County Jail)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Federal authorities are coming down hard on a local man accused of supporting ISIS by plotting to blow up the U.S. Capitol and kill elected officials and government workers.

A federal grand jury this week indicted Christopher Cornell, 21, on a new charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. 

ISIS is adept at recruiting followers on social media such as Twitter. In an effort to try to discourage others from being lured in, federal officials appear to be filing all possible charges against Cornell to set an example domestic terrorism won't be tolerated, said Mike Allen, FOX19 NOW's legal analyst.

"Are they sending a message? Heck yeah," he said Friday on FOX19 NOW Morning News. "They are going to come down on this guy as hard as they can."

Cornell's trial was expected to begin in late summer or early fall, but this new charge is going to push that back. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison.

[Related: Terror suspect Christopher Cornell: "I'm so dedicated that I risked my whole life"]

The new charge is an addition to the original indictment, which accused Cornell of attempting to kill federal officers and workers, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Federal authorities say he was trying to support ISIS.

Potential sentence Cornell faces:

  • Providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
  • Attempted murder of government employees and officials is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
  • Solicitation to commit an attempted murder is a crime punishable by 20 years in prison.
  • Possession of a firearm in furtherance of an attempted crime of violence is a crime punishable by a mandatory sentence of five years in prison. 


Cornell was able to reach through his cell bars to make phone calls, which are recorded by jail officials. Before his no-contact order, he was able to call whomever he wanted.

On March 5, he called the FOX19 NOW newsroom and spoke for one hour with anchor Tricia Macke. 

Allen said Cornell could face an additional charge from a threat he made in that exclusive interview.

"He specifically threatened the president. He said he was going to put a couple of bullets in President Obama's head," Allen recalled. "There is a separate charge for threatening the president...I think at some point they may charge him separately for that."

Related:

Judge rules terror suspect can continue phone use

Copyright 2015 WXIX. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly