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Sam Mullet, Amish beard-cutting ring leader, gets 15-year jail term

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The government asked for a life sentence for Mullet. The defense asked for two years or less.

The 10 men and six women were convicted last year in five attacks in Amish communities in 2011. The government said the attacks were retaliation against Amish who had defied or denounced Mullet's authoritarian style.

Amish believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards once they marry. Cutting it would be offensive to Amish.

Other defendants, some in tears, also offered to take the brunt of the blame and punishment on behalf of Mullet or their spouses. Addressing the judge one-by-one, the defendants 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.

Rhonda Kotnik, attorney for Kathryn Miller, a 24-year-old mother of three who received a one-year sentence, said appeals would focus on whether the hate-crimes law is unconstitutionally broad and whether restraining the victims to cut their beards amounted to kidnapping.

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