Militia members acquitted of plotting to overthrow government

March 28, 2012

Los Angeles Times on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“A federal judge’s ruling disparages the government case against seven members of the Hutaree militia in Michigan. Two of the defendants still face lesser charges.

By Times Wire Services

DETROIT — In a sharp rebuke, a federal judge Tuesday acquitted seven members of a Michigan militia of plotting to overthrow the U.S. government with weapons of mass destruction — crimes that could have landed them in prison for life.

The ruling is an embarrassment for the government, which secretly planted a paid informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia four years ago and contended that members were armed for war in rural southern Michigan. Nine members were arrested in 2010. One previously pleaded guilty, and one was found incompetent to stand trial.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said federal prosecutors, who rested their case last week, failed in five weeks of trial to prove that the Hutaree had a specific plan to kill a police officer and attack law enforcement personnel who showed up for the funeral.

Although testimony showed that Hutaree leader David Stone Sr. “may have wanted to engage in a war with the federal government … it is totally devoid of any agreement to do so between Stone and the other defendants,” Roberts wrote in a 28-page decision.

“This plan is utterly short on specifics,” the judge said, adding that “it is a stretch to infer that other members of the Hutaree knew of this plan, and agreed to further it.”

Defense lawyers say highly offensive remarks about police and the government were wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case that drew public praise from U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., who called the Hutaree a “dangerous organization.”

Roberts’ decision leaves federal prosecutors with what legal experts described as a “run of the mill” illegal firearms case against Stone, 47, and his son Joshua Stone, 24. They still face charges of possession of a machine gun and an unregistered firearm, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The judge acquitted the five other defendants, including another son, David Stone Jr.

All defendants were acquitted of the most serious charges: seditious conspiracy, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The judge also acquitted them of five lesser counts.

Attorney William Swor, who is representing Stone Sr. and visited him in the Wayne County Jail, said his client was grateful.

“He was quiet. He thanked God. He thanked the defense attorneys,” Swor told the Detroit Free Press. “And he shed a tear.”

Legal experts said prosecutors can’t appeal Roberts’ decision, which is equivalent to a jury’s acquittal.

“She stepped in and took the role of a jury,” said Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor. “It’s as if the jury acquitted them, and there can be no appeal of a jury acquittal.”

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment, pending the outcome of the trial against the remaining two defendants. The trial resumes Thursday.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Key charges dropped against Michigan militia

March 27, 2012

CBS News on March 27, 2012 released the following:

“(AP) DETROIT – A federal judge dismissed the most serious charges Tuesday against seven members of a Michigan militia who were rounded up as homegrown extremists accused of plotting war against the U.S., saying their expressed hatred of law enforcement didn’t amount to conspiracy against the government.

The decision is an embarrassment for the government, which secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia four years ago and claimed members were armed for war in rural southern Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts granted requests for acquittal on the most serious charges: conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. Only weapons charges remain against two of the defendants, who have been on trial since Feb. 13.

“The court is aware that protected speech and mere words can be sufficient to show a conspiracy. In this case, however, they do not rise to that level,” Roberts said.

Prosecutors said Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement, triggered first by the slaying of a police officer.

But there never was an attack. Defense lawyers say highly offensive remarks about police and the government were wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case that drew public praise from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who called Hutaree a “dangerous organization.”

Militia leader David Stone’s “statements and exercises do not evince a concrete agreement to forcibly resist the authority of the United States government,” Roberts said Tuesday. “His diatribes evince nothing more than his own hatred for — perhaps even desire to fight or kill — law enforcement; this is not the same as seditious conspiracy.”

There was no immediate comment from U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

The FBI had put a local informant, Dan Murray, inside the Hutaree in 2008 and subsequently added an agent from New Jersey, Steve Haug. Known as “Jersey Steve,” he posed as a trucker and spent months secretly recording talks with Stone. He even served as Stone’s best man at his wedding. The wedding party dressed in military fatigues.

Haug repeatedly talked to Stone about building pipe bombs and getting other sophisticated explosives. The FBI rented a warehouse in Ann Arbor where the agent would invite Stone and others to store and discuss weapons.

Haug told jurors he was “shocked” by Stone’s knowledge of explosives, noting it matched some of his own instruction as a federal agent.

Stone was recorded saying he was willing to kill police and even their families. He considered them part of a “brotherhood” — a sinister global authority that included federal law enforcers and United Nations troops.

Stone had bizarre beliefs: He suspected Germany and Singapore had aircraft stationed in Texas, and thousands of Canadian troops were poised to take over Michigan. He said the government put computer chips in a flu vaccine.

Stone had a speech prepared for a regional militia gathering in Kentucky in 2010, but bad weather forced him and others to return to Michigan. Instead, he read it in the van while a secret camera installed by the FBI captured the remarks.

“It is time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny,” Stone said. “Time is up, God bless all of you and welcome to the new revolution.”

Defense attorney William Swor said Stone is a Christian who was bracing for war against the Antichrist.

“This is not the United States government. This is Satan’s army,” Sword told the judge Monday, referring to Stone’s enemy. “What went on here was speech. What went on here was association. What went on here was constitutionally protected.””

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Feds Defend Charges in Michigan Militia Case

March 26, 2012

ABC News on March 26, 2012 released the following:

“By ED WHITE Associated Press

Federal prosecutors are defending the criminal case brought against seven members of a Michigan militia as a judge considers whether any charges should be dismissed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheldon Light conceded Monday there’s no proof of a “specific plan” to attack the U.S. government. But he says there’s much evidence in secretly recorded discussions to show the Hutaree militia wanted to draw in federal law enforcement by killing local authorities.

Militia members are charged with conspiring to commit rebellion against the government and other crimes. There was no actual attack. Jurors have the day off while defense attorneys argue for acquittal. Prosecutors rested their case last week.

Judge Victoria Roberts is pressing them to explain why the charge of seditious conspiracy fits against all seven.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.