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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: militias

Testimony continues in Mich. militia trial

This combo of eight photos provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows from top left, David Brian Stone Sr., 44, of Clayton, Mich,; David Brian Stone Jr. of Adrian, Mich,; Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio; Tina Mae Stone and bottom row from left, Michael David Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich,; Kristopher T. Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; Joshua John Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich.; and Thomas William Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., suspects tied to Hutaree, a Christian militia. (Associated Press)

By ED WHITE,Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — An FBI informant who was embedded with a southern Michigan militia ended his testimony Thursday after more than a week, answering questions that were intended to portray the group's leader as a man with unusual beliefs but who wasn't a warrior against the government.

Dan Murray said Hutaree leader David Stone was greatly concerned about the arrival of the Antichrist and wanted Christians to be ready to defend themselves.

At one point, Murray said Stone believed the federal government was the Antichrist, but the judge struck the remark because it wasn't directly related to a question asked by defense attorney William Swor.

Stone, his wife, two sons and three other men are charged with conspiring to commit rebellion against the government, first by killing a police officer and then attacking the funeral. They also face weapon charges in the trial, which began Feb. 13 and has weeks to go.

Murray, 57, was paid about $31,000 in cash for months of work for the FBI. He secretly recorded conversations while attending meetings and military-style drills in Lenawee and Washtenaw counties in 2008 and 2009. By the end of 2009, three months before Hutaree members were arrested, he wanted to get out.

“I was getting burned out by the whole thing. … I didn't think there was any more I could get,” Murray testified, adding that he never felt threatened by the Hutaree.

Murray, who works for Ford Motor Co., acknowledged that he once tried to bait Stone during a late-night recorded call by saying, “God, I hate the government.”

Swor asked if Stone replied: “Me, too.”

“I don't believe so,” Murray said.

He said Stone on another occasion talked about Christianity and salvation — not fighting the government — during a meeting with a pastor in southwestern Michigan. They had driven across the state to attend a church service but were late.

Murray said Stone feared that the government was planting chips in people through flu shots. He said Stone in August 2009 urged him to go to Selfridge Air National Guard Base in southeastern Michigan to see if German troops had arrived and raised their flag. Murray declined.

Defense lawyers claim prosecutors have turned senseless conversations between Hutaree members into a plot to overthrow the government. They say the talk was offensive at times, but not illegal. Jurors last week heard Stone saying he would kill police officers and their families, although there was no mention of a specific plan.

Elderly men accused in Ga. militia plot

Dan Roberts, left, and Frank Thomas are shown in this artist rendering as he appear in a federal courtroom in Gainesville, Ga., on Wednesday. The two and two other men are accused of planning a terror attack. (AP/Richard Miller)

By GREG BLUESTEIN and JAY REEVES, Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — On his website, militia leader-turned-blogger Mike Vanderboegh writes about fed-up Americans responding to government violence with guns and grenades. It's an attempt to warn the government that people are armed and angry, he says, just like last year when he urged those upset with President Barack Obama's health care plan to toss bricks at Democratic Party offices.

 A few people shattered office windows then, and federal prosecutors now say his online novel about a militia making war against the U.S. government inspired a group of four retirement-age men in Georgia to plot an attack on unnamed government leaders using guns, the highly deadly toxin ricin and explosives.

Vanderboegh said he doesn't know the suspects. He ridiculed the men's plans and chuckled at the notoriety he has gained for his online rants.

“It comes with the territory,” he said in an interview from his home in a Birmingham suburb. Vanderboegh hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

The four suspected militia members allegedly boasted of a “bucket list” of government officials who needed to be “taken out”; talked about scattering ricin from a plane or a car speeding down a highway past major U.S. cities; and scouted IRS and ATF offices, with one man saying, “We'd have to blow the whole building like Timothy McVeigh,” a reference to the man executed for bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Federal investigators said they had them under surveillance for at least seven months, infiltrating their meetings at a Waffle House, homes and other places, before finally arresting them Tuesday, just days after discovering evidence they were trying to extract ricin from castor beans.

The four gray-haired men appeared in federal court in Gainesville, Ga., Wednesday without entering a plea. Frederick Thomas, 73; Dan Roberts, 67; (pictured up top) Ray Adams, 65; and Samuel Crump, 68, (pictured left) were jailed for a bail hearing next week. They apparently had trouble hearing the judge, some of them cupping their ears.

Read the rest of the story by clicking the link below.

Militia leader sentenced in grenade case

A self-described militia leader will spend a year and a day in prison for making grenades that he said were to fight off a communist invasion.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., 60, was given an exceptionally low sentence this week in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after his public defender described his health problems, which include lung cancer. He'll be on home detention for one year after his release, serve three years probation and is to perform 100 hours of community service.

Federal prosecutors had requested he be sentenced to 46 months in prison for amassing a a weapons collection at his property at 28128 Highway 4, just south of Spirit Lake, where he was arrested on July 3, 2010, while making grenades with other militia members.

He pleaded guilty in November to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempt to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act.

Kimbley had previously discussed bombing local bridges with an undercover federal agent and made threatening statements toward President Barack Obama, according to court papers, but his lawyer, Kim Deater, said he never threatened anyone and was simply saying things similar to what his idol, Glenn Beck, says.

Codefendent Steven E. Winegar, 52, of Harpster, Idaho, was sentenced last month to eight months of house arrest and five years of probation for illegal possessing a .45 pistol.

An undercover agent had been tracking the men through their militia ties since at least October 2009, when he first saw Kimbley with an AK-47 equipped with an electronic optical sight and bought a .22-caliber Ruger handgun from him.

Kimbley was convicted of felony aggravated assault in 2004, which means he's prohibited from possessing firearms.

Retired Spokesman-Review reporter Bill Morlin covered Kimbley's sentencing for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He reports that Judge Edward Lodge said it was “far-fetched” to think the arsenal of weapons and homemade bombs “would have any impact one way or another if there was an invasion from a communist country.” Read Morlin's story here.

Manhunt continues for ex-militia leader

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say they believe a former militia man is still alive nearly two weeks after he fired at sheriff's deputies and then fled into the western Montana woods.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Department says authorities were working to rule out that 47-year-old David Burgert was injured or had harmed himself.

More than 40 officers and two cadaver dogs participated in the search on Thursday but turned up no sign of him.

A department statement issued today says officers searched between U.S. Highway 12 and Interstate 90, but found no evidence that Burgert is still in the immediate area. Nobody was injured in the June 12 shooting.

Burgert was the leader of a militia group accused of plotting to assassinate judges and law enforcement officers in Flathead County a decade ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Burgert as an associate of Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, who is in jail on federal charges accusing him of plotting to kill law enforcement officials.

Cox, 27, was the featured speaker at a meeting of extremist groups at the Post Falls Greyhound Park in December 2009.

Hunt continues for paranoid survivalist

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LOLO, Mont. (AP) — A practiced survivalist and former militia leader whose mother said he slipped into paranoia after repeated run-ins with Montana law enforcement eluded authorities searching for him Tuesday in a remote mountain range near the Idaho border.

 As the hunt for 47-year-old ex-convict David Burgert carried into its third day, court documents and interviews with law enforcement officials painted a picture of a well-armed “bully” who became convinced a decade ago that authorities were out to get him.

Burgert is being sought for attempted homicide and probation violations after allegedly firing a handgun at two Missoula County sheriff's deputies during a confrontation Sunday about 25 miles west of Missoula.

As the leader of the since-disbanded “Project 7” militia in northwest Montana, Burgert was convicted in 2003 of illegally possessing a machine gun and sentenced to federal prison. He was released last year.

Prior to his arrest in that case, Burgert eluded authorities by staging his death along the Flathead River and then retreating to a secluded forest encampment near Kalispell. He was caught about a month later following an hours-long, armed standoff in the forest, authorities said.

His latest escapade bears similar hallmarks: Caches of weapons, food and gear believed to be Burgert's have been found in the woods in the search area, and authorities said he appears to have planned the attack on the deputies.

No one was hurt in Sunday's exchange of gunfire.

In a 2007 letter to the federal judge overseeing his illegal weapons case, Burgert's mother, Phyllis Richards, pleaded for a reduction in Burgert's prison sentence based partly on his history of mental health problems. Richards said her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and became paranoid after he came under the watch of authorities.

“He was so scared for his own life he was doing all he could just (to) go to the mountains to live and to survive,” Richards wrote of her son's activities leading up to his arrest. “I saw fear in Dave I never saw before. … From that time on he was obsessed with things going on in the world and was so very paranoid.”

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Manhunt for ex-militia leader scaled back

FBI agents, in a helicopter from the Montana National Guard, land at the Lumberjack Saloon west of Lolo, Mont., Monday to join in a manhunt for David Burgert. (AP Photos/Missoulian, Linda Thompson)

LOLO, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are scaling back the ground hunt for a former militia leader accused of firing a gun at Missoula County deputies Sunday before disappearing into the woods near the Idaho border.

Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick says law enforcement agents continue to patrol a 50-square-mile area centered on the Lolo National Forest in the search for ex-convict David Burgert.  But Dominick says Burgert could've escaped the area in a 1987 Jeep Wagoneer that Burgert owns but authorities have been unable to find.

 The 47-year-old Burgert is the former leader of a Flathead County militia group that was accused of plotting to assassinate local officials and overthrow the federal government.

He and some other members eventually pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges. Burgert was released from prison in March after serving eight years.

Burgert, who previously told police “he wasn't going to be taken down like last time,” may have planned Sunday's attack, Dominick told The Associated Press on Monday.

Authorities found ammunition packed inside the Jeep's engine compartment and in another vehicle associated with Burgert, as well as two stolen rifles and a magazine of handgun ammunition on the ground near where he fled, Dominick said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Burgert as an associate of Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, who is in jail on federal charges accusing him of plotting to kill law enforcement officials. Cox, 27, was the featured speaker at a meeting of extremist groups at the Post Falls Greyhound Park in December 2009.

Militia man guilty in Idaho grenade case

A self-described militia leader pleaded guilty this week to federal gun charges connected to a grenade manufacturing operation at his trailer in Spirit Lake, Idaho.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., 58, discussed bombing local bridges with an undercover federal agent and made threatening statements toward President Barack Obama, leading investigators last July to seize 20,000 ammunition rounds and several firearms from Kimbley’s property, where he and other suspected militia members gathered to construct grenades, according to court documents.

Kimbley, who remains in federal custody, pleaded guilty to Monday to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempt to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 22.

“There was no plea deal,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan.

Past coverage:

Sept. 20: Glenn Beck inspired alleged grenade maker

July 6: Illegal grenade manufacturing uncovered in Spirit Lake

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