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.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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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.””

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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.


FBI probes alleged gambling houses in Jefferson County

March 20, 2012

ENewsCourier.com on March 19, 2012 released the following:

“Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The FBI’s gambling corruption investigation in Montgomery wasn’t the only one going on at the same time in Alabama.

The FBI was recording phone calls and meetings in Jefferson County a few months after it did the same thing in Montgomery. Court records show one Jefferson County businessman has agreed to plead guilty and several other people are under investigation over electronic bingo machines installed in the small town of Kimberly, 20 miles north of Birmingham.

Kimberly Mayor Craig Harris said Monday he initiated the investigation and is glad he can finally talk about his role. He worked as an informant who let the FBI record his phone calls and meetings, including ones where he received cash payoffs from gambling operators in return for police protection.

“There wasn’t any fear behind it because I was doing the right thing from the start,” the 38-year-old mayor said.

But he said he regretted he couldn’t be straightforward with constituents in the town of 1,800 when they called to complain about him doing nothing about the illegal operations.

“There were several calls about, ‘Why aren’t you doing anything?'” he said.

The Kimberly investigation and the Montgomery investigation were both run out of Washington by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. But they differed dramatically in size. One involved thousands of machines and millions in offers. The other involved dozens of machines and thousands in payoffs.

Justice Department spokesman Laura Sweeney said Monday she could not comment about the ongoing investigation in Jefferson County.

The Montgomery case involved two huge electronic bingo casinos in Dothan and Shorter. The Dothan operator, his two lobbyists and a former legislator pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in July and August. The operator, Ronnie Gilley, admitted offering millions in bribes to get votes for pro-gambling legislation in 2010.

The operation in Jefferson County involved at least four houses in and around Kimberly that had eight to 10 electronic bingo machines each and operated 24 hours a day as makeshift gambling halls, the mayor said.

He said one of the operators approached him on a Saturday in 2010 with an offer of about $150 a week to keep the Kimberly police away and provide notice if there was going to be a crackdown. He contacted the state attorney general’s office on Monday morning to report the offer and was meeting the next day with representatives of the attorney general and FBI to set up the undercover operation.

He said he started collecting $150 weekly payments for one gambling business and then added others, eventually collecting several thousand dollars while the FBI recorded the payoffs in late 2010 and early 2011. The mayor said he handed over all the money to the FBI each week.

Federal court records filed late last week show that Daniel “Boone” Stone of Morris has agreed to plead guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and operating an illegal gambling business. In return for his cooperation, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison sentence of six to 12 months and a fine of $2,000 to $20,000.

Stone’s attorney, Scott Morro, said his client played a minor role in the case and wanted to put it behind him by reaching a plea deal.

“I guess my guy is a Gilley,” he said, referring to the casino developer who pleaded guilty in Montgomery and helped prosecutors.

Morro said federal prosecutors told him they had built a case on taped recordings, but he had not heard them.

Court documents filed in his case describe at least five others involved in the gambling businesses, and one of the houses they used was owned by Stone’s father. The father was not named, and Morro said he hopes the father will remain out of the case.

The court papers say the machines came from a convenience store owner in Gardendale and a club owner from Warrior, but they are not identified by name.

The mayor said sheriff’s deputies raided the gambling hall that was in the Stone home in 2011, and the others closed voluntarily. He said he knew Daniel Stone because he was part-owner of an IGA grocery store in Kimberly that has since closed, and the other alleged co-conspirators were friends or acquaintances who lived in the area. He said he can’t identify them because the investigation is ongoing.

This is not the first time Kimberly has had a gambling issue. In May 2008, police seized 189 gambling machines, valued at more than $1 million, from a warehouse. They destroyed them in 2011 after winning a three-year legal battle with the owner.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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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.