A federal appeals court in Chicago on Tuesday upheld white supremacist Matthew Hale’s conviction and 40-year sentence for soliciting the murder of a federal judge, brushing aside his claim that he had repeatedly said he wanted nothing to do with the crime.

“As the government has maintained, Hale tried to ‘create plausible deniability in the event his conversation was being monitored,’” a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.