Eric Ian Baker pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court for his role in burning and vandalizing the Islamic Center of Columbia in February 2008, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.
Baker was charged with violating civil rights that protect religious property and for using fire in the commission of a felony.
Two other defendants, Michael Corey Golden and Jonathan Edward Stone, had previously pleaded guilty in November 2008 for their roles in the arson.
During the plea hearing, Baker admitted that he, Golden and Stone assembled Molotov cocktail incendiary devices, broke into the Islamic Center, ignited the devices and used them to destroy the mosque, the release said.
He admitted to painting swastikas and the phrase “White Power” on the mosque in the course of the arson and that they acted because of the religious character of the property.
A date for Baker’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later time. Stone and Golden are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 23, 2009.
All three defendants face prison sentences of up to 30 years for damaging religious property and for using fire and an explosive device to commit a federal felony offense.
“This type of crime strikes at the heart of our civil rights and religious freedoms in America. I am very pleased that through local, state and federal cooperation all defendants responsible for this vile attack have been brought to justice,” U.S. Attorney Edward M. Yarbrough for the Middle District of Tennessee said in the release.
“Every Muslim who saw the news photos with the swastika painted on the burned out Islamic center was victimized by this attack. Today, they can clearly see that American law enforcement stands strongly with them to guarantee their freedoms to worship and assemble,” ATF Nashville Field Division Special Agent in Charge James M. Cavanaugh said.