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A Meridian man who shot at and damaged two hydroelectric dams in Idaho nearly a year ago has been sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution to Idaho’s largest power company.

District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sentenced 59-year-old Randy Vail to five years probation and ordered him to pay the Idaho Power group nearly $550,000 for damaging its facilities, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho.

Last June, Vail rode his motorcycle onto Hells Canyon Dam late at night and fired a rifle at electrical substations. An hour later, he did the same at Brownlee Dam. Idaho Power said the shots caused a brief power outage and damaged equipment.

After the shooting, Vail fled from Washington County sheriff’s officers who attempted to stop him. Charges related to that incident were dropped to avoid double prosecution on the same charge, state officials told the Idaho Statesman.

Vail was initially charged with two counts of destruction of an energy facility. In March, he pleaded guilty to one of the charges, but the second was dropped at the request of the prosecutor. He faces 20 years in prison for both charges.

Vail’s actions were motivated by “hostile sentiments toward law enforcement and the government,” according to the press release. While incarcerated, Vail told loved ones that the government was “illegitimate” and that he did not recognize the authority of judges, sheriffs, the governor or the federal government, the press release said. Vail’s statements to family members were made in phone calls that were recorded.

“Vail wanted to ‘make a statement’ in his own words, declaring ‘we need a revolution or a civil war,'” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit said in the press release that Vail’s actions put the power supply at risk. He clarified that Vail was charged because of his illegal conduct, not his beliefs, which authorities said stem in part from reading and viewing online conspiracy theories and anti-government propaganda.

“This case shows that our way of life is threatened when people start to believe that ideology can somehow justify violence,” Hurwit said. “That is never the case.”

Attacks last year damaged electrical substations in North Carolina, Washington and Oregon. In a bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security warned that “domestic violent extremists” viewed attacks on power and communications infrastructure as “a means of creating chaos and pursuing ideological goals.”

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