Man sentenced to prison for driving into IRS building

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A Birmingham man was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in prison for driving his car into an IRS building.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, in a statement Wednesday to FOX6 News, said Ernest Milton Barnett, 50, was sentenced earlier in the day to 52 months in prison. Federal judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins also order Barnett to pay more than $3,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and IRS employees injured in the 2008 assault.

Vance said Barnett pleaded guilty in March to assaulting federal employees and damaging government property. The indictment charged him with using a deadly weapon, a Jeep Cherokee Sport Utility Vehicle, in his Aug. 26, 2008, assault on IRS employees. It also charged him with willfully damaging government property.

"This defendant undertook a senseless and outrageous attack on a government building filled with people in order to protest a long-standing tax debt, and innocent and unsuspecting federal employees were injured," Vance said in the statement. "Such a premeditated and unwarranted assault against the federal government demands punishment."

According to Vance, the incident began earlier that morning when Barnett grew angry during a telephone conversation with an IRS employee. Vance said he left his Center Point home in route to the IRS building to exact revenge on the government agency. He was seen driving in both directions around the IRS building before crossing over a curb onto a grassy area at the back of the building. He began to spin his vehicle around, then aimed it at the wall, accelerated and rammed into a window. As employees inside began to flee the breaking glass, BARNETT backed up, re-aimed the vehicle and struck the building again.

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