An Indiana man whose beliefs in National Socialism motivated him to paint swastikas at a Carmel synagogue last year was sentenced to three years in prison for "hate crime", federal authorities said.
Nolan Brewer, 21, of Eminence, Indiana, was sentenced Monday for conspiring to violate the civil rights of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, a Jewish synagogue, in the July 28, 2018, defacement. Brewer pleaded guilty to the federal hate crime, U.S Attorney Josh J. Minkler said in a news release Tuesday.
Brewer was also ordered to repay the synagogue $700 for the damage.
Brewer and his wife, Kyomi, painted Nazi flags and iron crosses on the walls of a trash enclosure at the synagogue at 3085 W. 116th St., federal and Hamilton County authorities said.
Kyomi Brewer was a minor at the time, according to court documents. Her attorney, Kevin Karimi, told IndyStar that she was charged as an adult in Hamilton County. Court documents show she pleaded guilty to arson and received probation but no jail time at her sentencing last month.
Prosecutors said evidence showed the painting was not a "spur-of-the-moment childhood prank," but rather an attack fueled by Nolan Brewer's beliefs in National Socialism. He told investigators that he and his wife, a minor, "targeted the synagogue because it was full of ethnic Jews," authorities said.
The synagogue was located more than 50 miles from Brewer’s home.
Authorities said Brewer and his wife painted two red and black National Socialist flags that were flanked by two iron crosses on synagogue property.
The couple originally planned to torch the synagogue, according to federal officials. They had intended to break in and set fire to it by igniting homemade "Drano bombs" — overpressure explosive devices made with Drano — and letting the explosion create and spread a fire throughout the synagogue.
A witness testified that Brewer told her he and his wife got "spooked" by the synagogue's security cameras and lights, so they instead defaced the walls and burned the ground with homemade napalm.
In the months leading up to the attack, co-workers from Brewer's two jobs testified that Brewer openly identified with National Socialism at work. He wore a swastika necklace and made "racist and anti-Semitic remarks", witnesses said.
After the vandalism, Brewer bragged to co-workers and a friend about what he had done, witnesses said. He was arrested a few weeks after the attack.
Brewer reportedly told investigators his goal was to "spark more radicalism" and make "news headlines." Authorities said Brewer also wanted to intimidate the congregation.
Benjamin Sendrow, rabbi at Shaarey Tefilla, told IndyStar in August that the couple "utterly failed."
"They tried to evoke hatred and fear," he said. "And what they produced was an outpouring of love and support and solidarity."
The congregation's president, Corey Freedman, said in a statement Tuesday night that "justice has been handed down."
"While we can hope that this is the last we hear of this case, and that the sentence will help deter others from this type of hate crime, we know better and must continue to be strong and band together."
The Jewish Community Relations Council released this statement:
"At a time when expressions and acts of anti-Jewish bigotry are increasing at alarming rates, here in the US, throughout Europe, and around the world, the JCRC is pleased that one of the perpetrators of the antisemitic vandalism that desecrated Congregation Shaarey Tefilla last summer was sentenced in federal court today."