- Associated Press - Saturday, May 19, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — Three men accused of making Molotov cocktails had been planning to attack President Obama’s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and other targets during this weekend’s NATO summit, prosecutors said Saturday.

The three were arrested Wednesday in a nighttime raid of an apartment in the city’s South Side Bridgeport neighborhood ahead of the two-day meeting.

Defense attorneys alleged that the arrests were an effort to scare the thousands of people expected to protest at the meeting of world leaders. They told a judge that undercover police were the ones who brought the Molotov cocktails.

“This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear,” defense attorney Michael Duetsch said.

Later, outside the courtroom, Duetsch said two undercover police officers or informants who called themselves “Mo” and “Gloves” were also arrested during the Wednesday raid, and defense attorneys said they later lost track of the two.

“We believe this is all a setup and entrapment to the highest degree,” Duetsch said.

The trio was charged with providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of explosives.

The suspects were each being held on $1.5 million bond. They apparently came to Chicago late last month to take part in May Day protests. Six others arrested Wednesday in the raid were released Friday without being charged.

Chicago police Lt. Kenneth Stoppa declined to elaborate on the case beyond confirming the charges against the three who were still in custody.

Police identified the suspects as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24. A police spokesman gave Betterly’s hometown as Oakland Park, Mass., but no such town exists. There is an Oakland Park, Fla., that is near Fort Lauderdale.

Activist Bill Vassilakis, who said he let the men stay in his apartment, described Betterly as an industrial electrician who had volunteered to help wire service at The Plant, a former meatpacking facility that has been turned into a food incubator with the city’s backing.

Vassilakis said he thought the charges were unwarranted.

“All I can say about that is, if you knew Brent, you would find that to be the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard. He was the most stand-up guy that was staying with me. He and the other guys had done nothing but volunteer their time and energy,” he said.”

Betterly appears to have a history of minor run-ins with law enforcement.

He was cited for disorderly intoxication in February in Miami-Dade County, Fla., earlier this year , but the case has been dismissed, according to online court records.

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