Instead of receiving a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison, Michael Fortier, who had failed to warn anyone of the Oklahoma City bombing but later testified against the men convicted in the plot, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison.
Prosecutors had asked the federal judge for a "meaningful" reduction in Fortier's sentence for his help in assembling the case against his friend Timothy McVeigh, who has been sentenced to die for his role in the 1995 bombing, and Terry Nichols, who was convicted of conspiracy and will be sentenced on June 4."We need co-operators," Joseph Hartzler, the lead prosecutor against McVeigh, told U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Van Bebber. "As a prosecutor, when I sit down with a person, I need the person to understand that there's a reward at the end."
In the end, that reward was a 12-year sentence on four charges that included transporting firearms stolen from an Arkansas gun collector named Roger Moore and conspiracy to transport the firearms. Prosecutors said money from the sale of these guns helped finance the bombing.
Fortier also pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, meaning that while he knew of the plot, he did not make it known to the authorities, and that he made false statement to FBI agents in denying any prior knowledge of the plot.
"Michael Fortier did not believe Timothy McVeigh was going to carry out the bombing," Fortier's lawyer, Michael McGuire, told Van Bebber. "For his negligence, he will always be the unforgiven man."
Minutes before he was sentenced, Fortier, who is 29, faced the judge, with his back to the courtroom crowded with bombing victims. Weeping, Fortier read a statement of apology. "You have all suffered for what I have done and what I failed to do," he said.
"I am upset all around," Oneta Johnson said Wednesday after the sentencing. Johnson's mother was one of the 168 people killed in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. More than 500 other people were injured.
"I personally think my mom was let down and the other bombing victims were let down," Johnson said. "I think it should have been more."