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Adams Man Pleads Guilty To Four Terrorism Related Charges

Jim Levulis
Ciccolo's home in Adams.

Alexander Ciccolo of Adams, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to four charges related to terrorism Monday in connection with plans to attack college campuses.

Ciccolo came to the attention of the FBI through his online support for the so-called Islamic State and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2014. His father, Robert Ciccolo, a police captain in Boston, alerted authorities to his estranged son’s increasingly radical social media presence. Alexander Ciccolo was arrested in 2015 after accepting weapons from an FBI informant in Adams as part of a plot to use homemade bombs to attack a college campus.

“Mr. Ciccolo formally entered guilty pleas to the four charges against him: providing material support for a terrorist organization, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, being a prohibited person in possession of firearms, and assault with a dangerous weapon,” said Bob Dunn.

Dunn, a reporter for The Berkshire Eagle, was in U.S. District Court in Springfield Monday for the 25-year-old Ciccolo’s appearance. Dunn says the assault charge emerged from an incident when a then-jailed Ciccolo was administered a tuberculosis screening.

“Mr. Ciccolo admitted to stabbing the nurse administering the test in the head with a pen, and according to prosecutors, it was more than 10 times,” Dunn told WAMC.

Monday’s plea was part of a negotiated deal between Ciccolo’s defense and the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case.

“The sentencing recommendation was a result of an agreed plea between the legal teams, and Mr. Ciccolo will be formally sentenced to 20 years in prison on September 5th," said Dunn.

Dunn painted a picture of the proceedings.

“It was very straightforward, very matter of fact. Mr. Ciccolo appeared to be pretty nonchalant. He answered all the judge’s questions in a very straightforward manner, and there wasn’t nearly as large of a crowd as there was when he was arraigned three years ago. His mother and stepfather were in attendance, as were members of the media, and some authorities were there as well,” Dunn said.

Dunn says the hearing didn’t reveal much new information about the case.

“Mr. Ciccolo’s attorney, David Hoose, seemed to indicate that as we move closer to sentencing and certainly at the sentencing hearing, a lot more of those granular details about the case itself and the charges may come out then,” he said.

Hoose, of the Northampton law firm Sasson, Turnbull, Ryan, and Hoose, spoke to reporters after the hearing, in audio captured by New England Public Radio.

“The judge can either accept the agreed upon disposition, which as you heard is for 20 years and lifetime supervision release, or he can reject it and we schedule the case for trial,” he said.

Hoose was optimistic about Judge Mark Mastroianni accepting the deal he had struck with prosecutors.

“I don’t have any reason to think he won’t accept the deal. I think that Judge Mastroianni has known me, known Kevin O’Regan for a long time. I’m sure he understands the amount of work and effort that went into this case for a long time,” said Hoose.

Hoose says the compromise is the best possible outcome for his client.

“We’ve gone through a lot to negotiate this plea agreement. You know, when I was a young lawyer somebody told me it must be good if no one’s happy. I’m sure the government could make the argument that more time is warranted, we could make an argument that less time is warranted, but the fact is that this is an agreement that everybody has come together on. And my goal at this point is to get it across the finish line and get Alex on to the next phase of his life,” Hoose told the assembled reporters.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 5th.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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