Three Montana militia sympathizers and the leader of their Indiana-based organization face criminal charges.
Three of them are accused of advocating the murders of public officials and other terrorism.
The charges against fugitive rancher Calvin Greenup, of Darby, Mont., and the others were filed Thursday following an undercover investigation by state police.
Greenup, who had fully automatic weapons and gas masks in his home, fled into Idaho just prior to a police raid on his home last month.
His current whereabouts aren’t known, but he may have been flown out of the region, authorities say.
The Associated Press reported that undercover agents had seen Greenup with what appeared to be .50-caliber machine gun. Possession of such weaponry is illegal without a permit.
Three of the four suspects are accused of advocating the murder of public officials and other terrorism tactics for political purposes. Two of the men are charged with helping a suspect avoid arrest by escaping into Idaho last month.
The case was developed by two undercover state investigators, posing as militia members, who befriended Greenup and secretly taperecorded conversations.
Charged are Joe Holland of Boonville, Ind., national director of the North American Volunteer Militia; Greenup, who is the state coordinator for the organization; and Dennis W. Stucker of Darby.
A fourth man, Benjamin Schneider, was arrested Wednesday night and is the only one of the suspects in custody.
Details of the allegations and the undercover operation were disclosed Thursday in Helena by the attorney general’s office.
The state contends the four are anti-government activists and either supporters or members of the militia movement.
Schneider and Stucker are charged with obstructing justice for allegedly helping Greenup make a late-night escape April 12 when he believed authorities were closing in on his Bitterroot Valley home.
Two state agents - apparently to avoid divulging their undercover roles - helped Greenup flee from his home.
They said the plan included ramming through any police roadblocks and shooting any officers they saw.
Greenup was wanted by authorities for obstructing justice by allegedly harboring his son, who failed to appear in court on an assault charge in March.
Schneider, 21, also faces a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.
Holland, Greenup and Stucker all are charged with “criminal syndicalism.” They are accused of “advocating crime, malicious damage or injury to property, violence or other unlawful methods of terrorism against public officials as a means of accomplishing political ends.”
Holland did not return phone calls Thursday, The AP reported.
Stucker, 47, used profanity in responding to the allegations against him and denied being a militia member or helping Greenup avoid arrest.
Stucker said the charges are government harassment.
“They’re trying to round up anybody and everybody that has been a friend of the Greenups,” he said.
A series of newsletters in the past few months are the basis for the charge against Holland, authorities say.
In the documents, he suggested law officers will be killed and “sent home in body bags” if they challenge the militia. He issued a call to arms for supporters to converge on Ravalli County in support of Greenup and others.
The charge against Greenup, 52, stems from the undercover investigation that began April 10 when agent Ward McKay pretended to be a militia sympathizer in a phone call to Greenup.
In the taped conversation, Greenup talked of needing armed help to arrest and try judges, attorneys and the sheriff for treason. If found guilty, they would be hanged, Greenup said.
McKay and another agent, Mark Long, traveled to Ravalli County on April 12 where they met with Greenup using their false identities. At one point, the agents said, Greenup told them to shoot any law officers they saw if authorities staged a raid on his home.
The agents reported that Greenup talked a lot about attorneys, judges and law officers being guilty of treason for misinterpreting laws.
“Greenup said that the militia must impose common law in Hamilton first, hang all people guilty of treason immediately, then proceed throughout Montana doing the same thing in every county,” the investigators said.
They also met Schneider and described him in their report as a dangerous man willing to die for Greenup and the militia.
“Schneider is prepared mentally and physically to kill a law enforcement officer with little or no provocation,” they wrote. “Schneider is also willing to shoot or execute any other public official at the request of Greenup.”