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Federal grand jury indicts Conway man accused of planning Dylann Roof-style attack

Federal grand jury indicts Conway man accused of planning Dylann Roof-style attack (Photo: J. Reuben Long Detention Center; background: WPDE)

The Conway man accused of planning a Dylann Roof-style attack has been indicted in federal court.

According to a news release from Beth Drake, District Attorney for South Carolina in Columbia, Benjamin McDowell, 29, of Conway was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition.

McDowell faced a federal judge last month. Then, on Feb. 28, Drake reported that a Federal Grand Jury in Florence returned an indictment against him.

The FBI arrested McDowell on Feb. 15 after they say he bought a gun from an undercover FBI employee at a hotel in Myrtle Beach.

Court documents show he posted white supremacist hate speech on social media, at one point indicating that he might target a synagogue in the Myrtle Beach area.

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ABC15 News requested a SLED background check to learn more about McDowell's background.

It showed that he was convicted of first degree burglary and attempted burglary in 2008 and was sentenced to six years in prison, but that was suspended to three years on probation under the Youthful Offenders Act.

He was also convicted of third degree burglary and aggravated assault in 2009. He was sentenced to five years in jail, but it was suspended to three years probation.

Later in 2009, he was convicted of another burglary charged and sentenced to six years in prison.

In 2011, he was convicted of petty larceny and then later of second degree burglary. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the burglary charge.

In 2013, he was convicted of malicious injury to personal property and third degree assault and battery. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The maximum possible penalty for McDowell current charge for felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition is a fine of $250,000 and/or 10 years in prison.

The case has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Parham of the Florence office for prosecution.

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