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.


Defense in Mich. militia trial say feds withheld key info; prosecutors prepare to rest case

March 23, 2012

Washington Post on March 21, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

DETROIT — Attorneys for seven members of a Michigan-based militia charged with plotting to overthrow the government asked a judge to declare a mistrial Wednesday, claiming they should have been told earlier about a previous case handled by the FBI agent who infiltrated the group.

The defense attorneys found out only this week that agent Steve Haug was the FBI handler for a New Jersey man who was paid to collect information on white supremacists and hate groups, starting in 2003. The informant, Hal Turner, was a right-wing radio host and blogger who made threats against critics and public officials while on the FBI payroll.

Under federal law, the government is required to turn over material that could aid a defendant or impeach the credibility of a witness. William Swor, attorney for Hutaree militia leader David Stone, said prosecutors failed to meet their obligation.

Hateful, anti-government speech is a key part of the case against Stone and six other members of the militia, who are charged with conspiring to commit rebellion against the government, first by killing a police officer and then attacking the funeral. There was no slaying or attack.

Swor said the defense deserved to know sooner about Haug’s past work with a controversial informant, even if the information would never have been used on cross-examination.

“We were cut off from a whole line of investigation,” Swor told U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts.

Prosecutors denied any violation had occurred and said the information was not relevant. Roberts didn’t immediately rule on the request for a mistrial.

Turner of North Bergen, N.J., had no role in the Michigan militia investigation.

He was an FBI informant for four years until 2007. In 2010, he was convicted of making threats against three federal judges in Illinois in retaliation for a decision supporting gun control. He is serving a 33-month prison sentence

The government was expected to rest its case Wednesday, but arguments about Haug’s previous work lasted two hours. Prosecutors will try to finish Thursday. The trial started Feb. 13 and is expected to stretch into early April.

The final evidence of the day was video of a federal agent firing machine guns at a gun range. The weapons were seized when militia members were rounded up in March 2010.”

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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 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.