Alaska couple admits to plot to kill federal judge and others

August 28, 2012

Reuters on August 28, 2012 released the following:

“By Yereth Rosen

(Reuters) – An Alaska couple pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of conspiring to kill a federal judge in what prosecutors said was a revenge plot over income-tax rulings against them.

Lonnie and Karen Vernon, followers of jailed Alaska militia leader Schaeffer Cox, reached a deal with prosecutors to avoid the need for a trial that had been set to begin next month.

The Vernons and Cox were active in the “sovereign citizen” movement, whose adherents believe individuals are sovereign nations and federal, state and local laws do not apply to them.

The Vernons each entered a guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to commit murder for their plan to kill Alaska-based U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, who presided over a federal income tax case that ultimately cost the couple their home.

The Vernons also admitted in their plea agreement to planning to kill an Internal Revenue Service official and Beistline’s daughter and grandchildren.

The Vernons bought a silencer-equipped pistol and grenades in March 2011 and told the seller of the weapons about their intentions, according to the plea agreement. But the seller turned out to be a confidential government informant, and the Vernons were arrested immediately after the transaction took place.

Despite entering his guilty plea, Lonnie Vernon disrupted Monday’s court proceedings with a number of defiant outbursts.

“If I’m accused of doing anything, I’m accused of freely exercising my First Amendment rights to the max,” he told Judge Robert Bryan, who was brought in from Tacoma, Washington, to preside over the case.

But Bryan told the defendant that he and others with similar political views are mistaken about their responsibilities to obey the law. “You can’t decide, on your own, that you won’t be part of what the government rules are,” Bryan said.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop related charges concerning murder threats and illegal weapons, according to the agreement filed on Monday.

Under the plea deal, Lonnie Vernon, 56, faces a prison term of 21 to 27 years when the couple is sentenced on November 14.

Agreement on a specific sentence for Karen Vernon, 66, was not reached, but prosecutors pledged to recommend a sentence of no longer than 15 years and eight months.

Lonnie Vernon also was a top officer in an organization called the Alaska Peacekeepers Militia, founded and led by Cox, 28.

In a separate case, Cox and Lonnie Vernon were convicted in June of conspiring to murder federal and state government officials and of acquiring illegal weapons to use against their targets. Karen Vernon was not a defendant in that case.

Sentencing for Cox and Lonnie Vernon on the militia-conspiracy case is set for September 14. Both men, along with Karen Vernon, have been jailed since they were arrested last year.”

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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

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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.


Prosecutors display weaponry seized after militiamen arrests

May 10, 2012

Anchorage Daily News on May 9, 2012 released the following:

“Jurors get a look at arsenal seized from homes, trailer.
By RICHARD MAUER

The weapons and conspiracy trial of three Fairbanks militia members continued into its third day Wednesday with the introduction of seized guns, ammunition and documents, some brought into the federal courthouse, others as pictures projected on a big screen.

Federal prosecutors are taking the early days of the trial to set the groundwork for the weeks ahead. They’re systematically — and somewhat tediously — working with witnesses from the FBI and Alaska State Troopers to show the jury what their search warrants uncovered in the homes and a trailer belonging to the three defendants, Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon.

On Wednesday morning, FBI Agent Jolene Goeden showed photographs of thousands of rounds of ammunition seized in March 2011 from a large white trailer owned by Barney that was found parked at a Fairbanks ice park after the three men were arrested.

FBI agents had thought the trailer would be at the home of one of the suspects. When it wasn’t there when the men were arrested March 10, 2011, it set off a frantic search that included the use of aircraft. Officials knew from an informant that the trailer was filled with weapons and were concerned on two fronts — that other militia members, upset with the arrests of their leadership, might stage an attack using the ordnance, or that it could pose an explosion hazard to innocent bystanders if something inside ignited accidently.

Barney eventually told a U.S. Marshal where it was.

In addition to the ammo, the trailer also held a sniper rifle, a tripod-mounted semi automatic rifle, an M-16 assault rifle and grenade launchers, as well as supplies and equipment for Barney’s contracting business, Mammoth Electric.

Goeden also showed another copy of the 17 “Acts of War” that was found in the trailer. Unlike the one found in Cox’s house and entered as evidence Tuesday, this one had checkmarks next to the acts that presumably had already taken place, including firearms restrictions, confiscation of “any property,” federalization of law enforcement and the surrendering of power to a corporation or foreign government.

Only three acts remained unchecked: “mandatory medical anything,” elimination of gold, cash or barter, and the use of chips or marks to track, control or monitor.

Cox, the 28-year-old leader of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia and an ideological force in the Alaska “sovereign citizen” movement, once rescinded a guilty plea to a 2010 reckless endangerment charge by filing a notice to the recorder’s office in Fairbanks. A copy of the notice and other filings in his case were among the documents seized in the search of the home of co-defendant Barney, 37, a major in the militia.

The jury saw a copy of the seized set of documents — the standard court order dated March 10, 2010, accepting his plea deal, providing for no jail time and two years probation, and the surreal documents Cox used to abrogate the plea, including the paperwork for his now-famous “trial” in a Denny’s restaurant before a jury of his pals in which he was acquitted. Among the papers was the document filed in the recorder’s office — a repository mainly for land transactions — in which Cox captioned his case, “State of Alaska, a fiction, plaintiff, v Schaeffer Cox, a natural Man, victim and witness, waiving no rights, EVER.”

Interspersed with written ramblings were displays of the arsenals the men had amassed: Kalashnikov- and M-16-style assault rifles, numerous pistols and long rifles, hundreds of ammo clips, launchers for firing pepper-spray and tear-gas type canisters along with dozens of those rounds, powder and explosives. Troopers and FBI seized numerous body armor vests, handcuffs, a lock-pick kit, police duty belts and a “go bag” with 10 hand-held radios, batteries, pistols, an assault rifle, loaded magazines and a roll of duct tape.

Alaska State Trooper Joshua Rallo said he counted 20,000 rounds of ammunition in a storage pantry on the first floor of Barney’s home in North Pole adjacent to his office.

At each break in the proceedings, one of the prosecutors and an FBI agent would wheel out the evidence already presented to the jury and return with a cart filled with more stuff, some of it quite heavy. And there are still days to go in this phase of the trial.

The defense attorneys have not been saying much, but on one occasion, Barney’s attorney, Tim Dooley, asked Rallo whether everything he seized “was legal for a citizen to own?”

“Provided they’re not a felon, I guess,” Rallo replied.

There’s been almost no evidence about how the defendants amassed their armaments, or managed to pay for them. Prosecutors introduced a credit card receipt from Cox for $583 to Far North Tactical, a Fairbanks arms and police-supply merchant, and the phone number for the shop showed up on other seized paperwork.

They also introduced a mail-order box for a 37mm grenade launcher from a company called American Ammo from Ohio, and the stern instructions that came with it, warning that using the product for anything other than as a low-powered “wildlife control banger” could get the user in serious trouble with the federal government.”

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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

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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.