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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Steven Winegar

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.

Man gets house arrest in grenade case

A North Idaho man who was arrested as part of a federal probe into illegal explosives manufacturing in Spirit Lake will be on house arrest for eight months and probation for five years.

Steven E. Winegar, 52, of Harpster, Idaho, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene, where Judge Edward Lodge cited his lack of criminal history, military service and the cost of caring for his medical and mental conditions when imposing the light sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Winegar pleaded guilty in December to illegal possession of a firearm for a .45 pistol he possessed on July 3, 2010, when FBI agents raided a trailer in the Spirit Lake area owned by Kenneth B. Kimbley, Jr.

Agents seized hand grenades, firearms and more than 10,000 rounds of rifle ammo from the property at 28128 N. Highway 41.

Kimbley, 59, is prohibited from possessing firearms because of a previous felony conviction. His lawyer said Kimbley never threatened anyone but feared a communist takeover and was inspired by his idol, Glenn Beck.

Kimbley pleaded guilty in November to attempting to make explosive devices and illegal possession of a firearm. Sentencing is set for August 8.

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

Glenn Beck inspired alleged grenade maker

A Spirit Lake man accused of making grenades in his home over the Fourth of July weekend fears a communist takeover but has never threatened anyone, his lawyer said in recently filed court documents. 

Though federal agents have emphasized statements Kenneth B. Kimbley, Jr., 58, made about militias and his dislike for President Barack Obama, the suspect “made absolutely no threats to harm anyone at anytime,” according to court documents prepared by Kimbley’s public defender, Kim Deater.

Kimbley is appealing a U.S. magistrate’s decision to keep him in jail before his trial, currently set for late November, saying he poses no threat to the community.

“In fact, everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, Glenn Beck, typically states on the air and is protected free speech.” 

Deater writes that though Kimbley was “frequently baited” by an undercover agent, he and his friends “simply discussed their concerns of a communist takeover and the need to be prepared to defend themselves and the country if in fact a takeover occurred.”

Deater points out that Kimbley was not charged with making threats or with unlawful militia activity.

Instead, he’s charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of making a firearm in violation of the national firearms act.

The first charge stems from Kimbley, prohibited form possessing firearms because of a felony conviction, allegedly selling an undercover agent a .22 caliber handgun in October 2009.

The second stems from his arrest on July 3, when federal agents found grenade component in his home at 28128 Highway 41. Steven Eugene Winegar, 52, also is charged.

Deater described Kimbley as “a hardworking, taxpaying citizen” who’s lived in the area for 30 years and worked as a truck driver for the last four. He’s concerned his wife may be homeless in the next few months because of financial problems.

U.S. Magistrate Mikel H. Williams allowed Winegar to leave jail before trial but ordered Kimbley held without bail. He rejected Kimbley’s appeal Sept. 9, but Kimbley filed another appeal Sept. 16.

No hearing has been scheduled.

Past coverage:

July 6: Illegal grenade manufacturing uncovered in Spirit Lake

Idaho raid seizes grenades, guns, ammo

Two North Idaho men are in custody following an undercover federal probe into illegal explosives manufacturing that included the seizure of hand grenades, firearms and more than 10,000 rounds of rifle ammo. 

Kenneth B. Kimbley, Jr., 58, (right) and Steven Eugene Winegar, 52, were arrested Saturday on federal firearms charges after agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found grenade components at Kimbley’s home at 28128 N. Highway 41 in Spirit Lake, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.

Winegar told an undercover agent “he had 12 to 14 of these destructive devices at his own residence in Harpster, Idaho,” according to the documents.

Read the rest of my story here.

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