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Fortier set for release

By Nolan Clay Published: January 18, 2006
Michael Fortier will be released Friday, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has told victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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Fortier, 37, is completing a 12-year prison sentence for crimes tied to the 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Victims said they got a form letter Tuesday about his release.

"I'm not pleased, said widow Donna Hawthorne, whose husband, tire worker Thomas Hawthorne, 52, died visiting the Social Security Administration office in the federal building.

"I hope he learned in jail to have better choices, said Hawthorne, 63, of Choctaw. "He could have saved a lot of lives but choose not to. That's not very much time, compared to like my husband, who is dead forever.

Fortier was an Army buddy of bomber Timothy McVeigh and knew of the plot to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building. McVeigh pointed out the Murrah Building to him as the target in December 1994.

Fortier was punished for never warning anyone, for helping McVeigh move and sell stolen guns and for lying to FBI agents after the April 19, 1995, attack.

He pleaded guilty in August 1995 after striking a deal with prosecutors and was imprisoned immediately. He was not sentenced, however, until after he testified against McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols at their federal trials.

He was first sentenced in May 1998. He had to be resentenced in October 1999 because of a judicial mistake. The judge, brought in from Kansas City, Kan., to hear the case, gave him 12 years each time but did reduce Fortier's fine from $200,000 to $75,000.

Fortier also testified in 2004 for the prosecution at Nichols' state trial.

McVeigh was executed in 2001.

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