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PERRYSBURG, OH (Toledo News Now) -
The man who pleaded guilty to intentionally starting a fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday.
After serving that sentence, Linn will have five years of supervised released. Linn apologized in court Tuesday just before his sentencing. He said he was sorry for everything that he has done and hopes he can be forgiven.
Randy Linn admitted he set a fire inside the Islamic Center on September 30, 2012. Linn pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying religious property, using a fire to commit a felony and using and carrying a firearm to commit a crime of violence on Dec. 19, 2012.
In January, Linn filed a motion to withdraw that guilty plea, saying he was emotionally distressed and depressed at the time. A judge denied that motion, setting up Tuesday's sentencing.
Linn was seen entering the building on the center's surveillance cameras with what appears to be a firearm and gas can just minutes before fire broke out in the mosque's prayer room. The fire caused extensive damage and forced the center to close for more than five months.
Federal officials say Linn's crimes were motivated by hate.
"Defendant Randy Linn attempted to burn down a mosque because of the religion of its members," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy L. Austin Jr.
"Hate crimes like this seek to damage more than buildings, they take aim at our American way of life. But today's 20-year prison sentence and the coming together of this community to support our Muslim neighbors show that our freedoms are stronger and more resilient than this man's hatred," added Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Mosque leaders and community members say they were shaken by the arson.
"[It was] very disturbing once the determination was made that it was arson. So you really feel violated; it's hurtful," spokesperson for the Islamic Center Cherrefe Kadri said at the time.
"The individual can set fire to the mosque, but not to our spirit. We are going to be strong and move on, and this will be behind us very soon," said Dr. Mahjabeen Islam.