Man convicted in 2022 firebombing of Planned Parenthood clinic gets 6 years in prison

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The third of three defendants convicted in the 2022 firebombing of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Southern California – a 22-year-old Irvine man – was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.Related video above: The state of abortion access explainedTibet Ergul and his co-defendant Chance Brannon used a Molotov cocktail in March 2022 to damage a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, a city in Orange County, California, because it provided reproductive health services, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release. Another man, Xavier Batten, was recently sentenced for allegedly advising the pair on how to use the Molotov cocktail.“This defendant’s hatred toward others led him to plotting and carrying out violence,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “We will not allow bigoted intolerance to divide us. My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by hate in order to keep our community safe.”They also planned to attack an electrical substation with firearms or a Molotov cocktail “to debilitate Orange County’s power grid,” the release said.At another point, Ergul had sent Brannon a letter saying: “The rifle is in a box in my room waiting to be used in the upcoming race war,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And in the summer of 2023, Ergul and Brannon discussed and researched how to attack the Dodger Stadium parking lot or electrical room on a night celebrating LGBTQ pride, including by using a device that could be detonated remotely, Ergul said in his plea agreement.Ergul pleaded guilty on Feb. 29 to one felony count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility and one misdemeanor count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility, the release said.In addition to the prison sentence, Ergul is also required to pay $1,000 in restitution.Ergul’s attorney Sheila Mojtehedi said in an email to CNN that her client “appreciates the government and the Court’s consideration.”“He looks forward to closing this chapter and moving on with his life,” Mojtehedi said.“Mr. Ergul chose violence and destruction while targeting a wide array of innocent victims with whom he disagreed ideologically, putting their lives at risk,” said Amir Ehsaei, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, in a statement.The sentence will “prevent further acts of violence by Mr. Ergul,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Battaglia of the NCIS Marine West Field Office.How the alleged firebombing happenedErgul and Brannon, who at the time was an active-duty U.S. Marine, “wanted to make a statement about abortion, scare pregnant women away from obtaining abortions, deter doctors, staff, and employees at the clinic from providing abortions, and intimidate the clinic’s patients,” the release said.They allegedly assembled the Molotov cocktail in Ergul’s garage on March 12, 2022. On the morning of March 13 – disguised in dark clothing, masks, hoods and gloves – the two allegedly ignited the Molotov cocktail and threw it at the clinic’s entrance, starting a fire. Because of the damage, the clinic was forced to temporarily close and reschedule approximately 30 patient appointments, according to the release.Ergul said in his plea agreement that in June 2022 – following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – he and Brannon planned to use a second Molotov cocktail to attack another Planned Parenthood clinic, but they abandoned their plan after seeing law enforcement near the clinic, according to the attorney’s office.Ergul has been in federal custody since June 2023, and was the final defendant to be sentenced in the case.Last month, Brannon was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for his role. He pleaded guilty in November 2023 to one count of conspiracy, one count of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one count of intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.On May 13, Batten, 21, of Florida, was sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison for advising Ergul and Brannon on how to construct the Molotov cocktail used in the Planned Parenthood attack. He had pleaded guilty on Jan. 19 to one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility.

The third of three defendants convicted in the 2022 firebombing of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Southern California – a 22-year-old Irvine man – was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.

Related video above: The state of abortion access explained

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Tibet Ergul and his co-defendant Chance Brannon used a Molotov cocktail in March 2022 to damage a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, a city in Orange County, California, because it provided reproductive health services, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release. Another man, Xavier Batten, was recently sentenced for allegedly advising the pair on how to use the Molotov cocktail.

“This defendant’s hatred toward others led him to plotting and carrying out violence,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “We will not allow bigoted intolerance to divide us. My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by hate in order to keep our community safe.”

They also planned to attack an electrical substation with firearms or a Molotov cocktail “to debilitate Orange County’s power grid,” the release said.

At another point, Ergul had sent Brannon a letter saying: “The rifle is in a box in my room waiting to be used in the upcoming race war,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And in the summer of 2023, Ergul and Brannon discussed and researched how to attack the Dodger Stadium parking lot or electrical room on a night celebrating LGBTQ pride, including by using a device that could be detonated remotely, Ergul said in his plea agreement.

Ergul pleaded guilty on Feb. 29 to one felony count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility and one misdemeanor count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility, the release said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Ergul is also required to pay $1,000 in restitution.

Ergul’s attorney Sheila Mojtehedi said in an email to CNN that her client “appreciates the government and the Court’s consideration.”

“He looks forward to closing this chapter and moving on with his life,” Mojtehedi said.

“Mr. Ergul chose violence and destruction while targeting a wide array of innocent victims with whom he disagreed ideologically, putting their lives at risk,” said Amir Ehsaei, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, in a statement.

The sentence will “prevent further acts of violence by Mr. Ergul,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Battaglia of the NCIS Marine West Field Office.

How the alleged firebombing happened

Ergul and Brannon, who at the time was an active-duty U.S. Marine, “wanted to make a statement about abortion, scare pregnant women away from obtaining abortions, deter doctors, staff, and employees at the clinic from providing abortions, and intimidate the clinic’s patients,” the release said.

They allegedly assembled the Molotov cocktail in Ergul’s garage on March 12, 2022. On the morning of March 13 – disguised in dark clothing, masks, hoods and gloves – the two allegedly ignited the Molotov cocktail and threw it at the clinic’s entrance, starting a fire. Because of the damage, the clinic was forced to temporarily close and reschedule approximately 30 patient appointments, according to the release.

Ergul said in his plea agreement that in June 2022 – following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – he and Brannon planned to use a second Molotov cocktail to attack another Planned Parenthood clinic, but they abandoned their plan after seeing law enforcement near the clinic, according to the attorney’s office.

Ergul has been in federal custody since June 2023, and was the final defendant to be sentenced in the case.

Last month, Brannon was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for his role. He pleaded guilty in November 2023 to one count of conspiracy, one count of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one count of intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

On May 13, Batten, 21, of Florida, was sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison for advising Ergul and Brannon on how to construct the Molotov cocktail used in the Planned Parenthood attack. He had pleaded guilty on Jan. 19 to one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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