Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Jacksonville Man Sentenced for Assassination Attempt on Federal Judge
Jacksonville, Florida – United States District Judge L. Scott Coogler today sentenced Aaron M. Richardson (27, Jacksonville) to 343 years in federal prison for his attempt to assassinate United States District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan and 23 related offenses.
On March 17, 2016, a federal jury found Richardson guilty of attempting to murder a United States district judge, numerous firearm offenses, failure to appear at court hearings, making false statements to the FBI and the United States Probation Office, and impersonating an officer of the United States military.
According to evidence presented at trial, Judge Corrigan previously convicted and sentenced Richardson for attempting to make an incendiary device in a 2008 case. Following incarceration for that crime, Richardson began serving a term of supervised release. Subsequently, he was arrested for multiple new offenses and faced state prosecutions in Clay, Duval, and Volusia counties, as well as supervised release proceedings in federal court.
Richardson devised a plan, which he named “Mission Freedom,” that involved preparing a false order purportedly signed by Judge Corrigan, dismissing all of his pending charges, as well as other benefits. Richardson planned the murder so that Judge Corrigan could not refute the sham order. As part of the plan, he conducted Internet searches to locate Judge Corrigan and the potential murder weapon.
On June 21, 2013, Richardson stole a Savage Arms .30-06 rifle from a local Sports Authority store. The theft and Richardson’s prior casing of the store were captured on store video surveillance. On the night of June 22, 2013, Richardson went to Judge Corrigan’s residence and, at 12:30 a.m., he fired a single shot at the judge using the stolen rifle. The shot missed the judge by less than two inches and instead hit a window frame. Forensic evidence confirmed Richardson’s presence at the scene of the crime.
Richardson was apprehended on June 25, 2013, by a U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. That night, he made multiple false statements about the crime to the FBI.
“The attack on Judge Corrigan was an assault on the entire federal judicial system and the rule of law,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III. “The sentence imposed today reflects the seriousness of the crime and the importance of protecting our federal judiciary. Judges should not have to fear that their impartial rulings will subject them to threats of reprisal or attacks from criminal defendants or other disgruntled litigants.”
This case was investigated by the FBI, the United States Marshals Service, ATF, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the Daytona Beach Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Bethune-Cookman University Department of Public Safety, the United States Probation Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the State Attorneys’ Offices for the Fourth and Seventh Circuits. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mac D. Heavener, III and Mark B. Devereaux.