Sam Mullet, the mastermind behind the Amish beard cutting attacks in 2011 was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Four of his followers got seven years; and eleven others were sentenced to one year in prison.
The 16 members of the runaway Amish sect were convicted in September of federal hate crimes for the religious motivated attacks.
At trial, prosecutors said the followers cut the beards and cut the hair of Amish people who had left his group over various religious disagreements. Investigators said five attacks happened in four Ohio counties between September and November 2011.
Amish people believe the beard is an important symbol of faith and manhood, and the same goes for women’s hair.
The followers violated the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, prohibiting “any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person," according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Sam Mullet said in his defense: “I’m an old man. They call me a cult leader and that I’m doing it all for me. I am not going to be here much longer and my goal is to help people. My kids are all married and have families. If someone is to be punished, I will take the punishment for everybody. Everything I say gets twisted and turned so I do not have much else to say.”
The prosecution requested Mullet to be sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.