4 accused in 2008 RNC disruptions avoid jailby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Four people accused of trying to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul reached plea agreements Tuesday that will keep them out of jail.
Garrett Fitzgerald, Rob Czernik, Max Spector and Nathanael Secor had been scheduled for trial next week on felony charges of conspiracy to riot and conspiracy to damage property. Instead, they pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor charges with fines of less than $300 dollars each and no more than two years probation.
Fitzgeraldsaid it's not possible for justice to be done in a courtroom.
"I don't feel I was guilty of a felony level offense," Fitzgerald said. "I pled to the lesser offense, you know, because I was doing illegal things and I didn't expect the court would look the other way."
Fitzgerald said the Democrats can expect a similar reception by protesters should they hold their national convention in Minneapolis in 2012.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who helped with portions of the investigation, said he wanted felony convictions but compromise is part of how the judicial system works.
"We think the accountability and the admission that they were conspiring to create a riot, that admission is more important than the amount of time," Fletcher said.
The four were initially part of a group that called themselves the "RNC 8," and had argued that their prosecutions were politically motivated. Ramsey County Judge Teresa Warner says that wasn't the case.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)