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February 9, 2013

Ohio Amish beard-cutting ringleader gets 15 years

(Continued)

CLEVELAND —

"That's been my goal all my life," Mullet said to a hushed courtroom, with his fellow defendants and their attorneys sitting at four defense tables and filling the jury box.

"I'm not going to be here much longer," said Mullet, who didn't elaborate on any health issues.

The government had asked for a life sentence for Mullet, while the defense asked for two years or less.

Some defendants tearfully offered to take the brunt of the blame and punishment on behalf of Mullet or their spouses. Addressing the judge one by one, they said there would be no more beard-cutting attacks.

Freeman Burkholder, the 32-year-old husband of a Mullet niece and father of eight children, apologized to the judge.

"I won't do it again," he said.

Anna Miller, 33, married to a Mullet nephew and mother of six, also apologized, turning to relatives of victims as she said, "I'm sorry, it won't happen again." Like most of the women, she was sentenced to one year.

Federal prosecutor Bridget Brennan urged the judge to punish Mullet adequately.

"He is a danger to this community," she said. "He is capable of controlling 15 defendants."

Brennan repeated key testimony against Mullet and said he has remained the leader of his eastern Ohio community despite being locked up since his arrest in late 2011.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, whose office directed the prosecution, said he was confident the law would withstand a constitutional challenge.

As for Mullet, "I think the sentence he got was harsh; I think it was appropriately harsh," Dettelbach said. "Mr. Mullet's conduct in court today reiterated yet again his utter failure to respect the rule of law and his utter lack of remorse."

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