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Benjamin Haskell pleaded guilty today to charges of church arson.  Haskell, along with Michael Jacques and Thomas Gleason were accused of torching the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

The crime happened on the eve of President Barack Obama’s win on November 5th, 2008.   Haskell admitted that they set the church on fire as a negative response to Obama’s win.

The church, which has a predominantly African-American congregation, was in the process of being built and was located within blocks of the three men’s home.  The church was completely destroyed except for a metal superstructure and a small portion of the front corner.   

Jacques told the witness that the men poured about 5 gallons of gasoline around the back corner of the building and that lighting the vinyl siding ensured that the structure “went up quickly”.   

Since Haskell cooperated with authorities and named the other accomplices, there is a possibility that he will be able to escape the potential 10 year sentence for the crime.  Haskell’s formal sentence is scheduled for September 29th.

Benjamin Haskell

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