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Last updated December 12, 1997

Calendar of Conspiracy, Volume 1, Number 3: A Chronology of Anti-Government Extremist Criminal Activity, July to September 1997

A Militia Watchdog Special Report

 

INTRODUCTION

The following is a chronology of some of the events surrounding anti-government criminal activity in the United States during the third quarter of the year 1997. It illustrates both the scope of such activity—from large-scale acts of terrorism to local acts of harassment and intimidation—and its geographic extent—from major cities like Los Angeles to remote rural areas in Texas and Colorado. The chronology is not comprehensive. Although all major events are included, no systemized reporting system exists for smaller scale events. As a result, arrests or convictions for charges such as placing bogus liens, impersonating public officials or committing similar offenses are considerably underrepresented in this report. Such activities occur with a very high level of frequency across the nation. This report includes events from twenty-five states, but activity occurs in every state in the country.

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JULY

July 1, Wisconsin: Anti-abortion activist Dale Pultz goes on trial in Dane County for filing a $700,000 bogus lien against a Milwaukee judge who ruled him in contempt of court. He also filed a "Common Law Arrest Warrant" against the judge. He is charged with slander of title and forgery. Pultz was a member of the group Missionaries to the Preborn, which has advocated forming anti-abortion militias. He will be convicted the next day.

July 3, West Virginia: Jack Phillips, of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia, pleads guilty to conspiring to manufacture explosives, as part of an alleged plot to destroy the FBI fingerprinting facility in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He is the second member of the group to plead guilty.

July 3, Montana: Lavon Hanson, associated with the Montana Freemen, pleads guilty in a plea bargain to one count of bank fraud relating to his attempt to pass a bogus money order for $428,000 to a bank in Spokane, Washington. Hanson was one of the first Freemen to be arrested, triggering the lengthy standoff at Jordan, Montana. As part of his plea bargain, Hanson agrees to discuss the Freemen’s activities with the FBI.

July 3, California: Isabel Oxx, of Westlake, California, is convicted of jury tampering in connection with the fraud trial of Elizabeth Broderick, convicted for distributing bogus money orders. Oxx herself had previously tried to use such checks to pay off loans and make large purchases.

July 4, Texas: FBI agents arrest two men, Brad Glover of Towanda, Kansas, and Michael Dorsett of Texas, on weapons charges. The two were allegedly on their way to Fort Hood, Texas, where they planned to launch some sort of an attack on the base as the first of a series of planned attacks on military installations they believed to harbor UN troops.

July 7, Kansas: Scott Roeder is sentenced to sixteen months in state prison for parole violations following a 1996 conviction for having bomb components in his car trunk. Roeder, a sovereign citizen and tax protester, violated his parole by not filing tax returns or providing his social security number to his employer.

July 9, Washington: James Bell of Vancouver, Washington, is charged with using false Social Security numbers and with attempting to impede or obstruct agents from the IRS. The latter charge includes having stink-bombed the Vancouver IRS office. Bell, a member of the Multnomah County Common Law Court, is more well known for having written an Internet essay on "Assassination Politics" which advocates the murder of federal officials.

July 10, Wisconsin: Merlon Lingenfelter, Jr., is arrested on weapons charges in connection with the activities of Bradley Glover et al, above.

July 10, Colorado: Terry and Kevin Hobeck are arrested on weapons charges in Creede, Colorado, in connection with the activities of Bradley Glover et al, above.

July 10, Texas: Richard McLaren and three other members of the Republic of Texas who were involved in a week-long standoff with Texas authorities the previous May are arraigned in state district court on charges of organized criminal activity and, for McLaren, burglary. Two others also face kidnapping charges.

July 11, Kansas: Thomas and Kimberly Newman are arrested in Kansas on weapons charges in connection with the activities of Bradley Glover et al, above.

July 17, Washington: James Bell (see above) pleads guilty to obstructing the IRS and using false Social Security numbers.

July 17, Ohio: A $20 million bond is set by an Ohio judge for Chevie Kehoe, one of two Washington brothers involved in a shootout with Ohio police officers in February.

July 23, Washington: Verne Jay Merrell, Charles Barbee and Robert S. Berry, three of the "Spokane Bank Bandits" and alleged Phineas Priests, are convicted on eight felony counts in Spokane, Washington. The three, along with others, were involved in several armed bank robberies and bombings in 1996. Their first visit to court resulted in a mistrial. They face mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole.

July 23, Oklahoma: Common law court activists Darrell and Sally Frech are convicted on 13 felony charges involving conspiracy to defraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The Freches were associated with Roy Schwasinger’s "We the People" group, involved in nationwide scams. They claimed to be national representatives of the "Agricultural Related Damages Program" who told gullible people that the U.S. banking system had been declared unconstitutional and that any American who had taken loans or paid taxes was entitled to damages. The Freches charged $300 to process "damage claims." They made more than $400,000 from people in over 20 states, collecting at least 1,500 claim forms.

July 25, Oklahoma: James Viefhaus, Jr., an Oklahoma white supremacist, is found guilty on conspiracy charges including making a bomb threat and having bomb components. A companion is later found not guilty in a separate trial.

July 25, Washington: John Lloyd Kirk is sentenced to 46 months in prison on charges of possession of a pipe bomb and conspiracy to possess and make destructive devices. Kirk was part of a group of seven militia members and freemen arrested the previous year.

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AUGUST

August 1, Indiana: Militia leader and tax protester Joe Holland, already serving a ten year prison sentence in Montana, is sentenced to seven years in prison for bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Holland compares himself to the person who stood in front of the tank in China’s Tiananmen Square.

August 6, Missouri: David Wilber receives a conviction in St. Louis County Circuit Court on charges of failing to pay state income taxes or filing tax returns. Wilber, an outspoken tax protester who hasn’t filed federal or state income tax returns since 1977, faces up to twenty years in prison. Wilber claims that the monetary system of the United States is invalid.

August 6, Nevada: A federal grand jury indicts three Storey County militiamen on five charges, adding to six previous counts, related to selling illegal machine guns and making bombs to blow up government vehicles. The three militiamen included Griffin Evan Rausch, Jr., a Storey County sheriff’s patrol officer, Kevin Storms, a reserve deputy, and his brother, Robert Storms, a bartender at the "Bucket of Blood" saloon.

August 8, West Virginia: Floyd Raymond Looker is found guilty on charges relating to a plot to blow up the Clarksburg, West Virginia, FBI fingerprint laboratory, including conspiracy to engage in manufacturing and dealing in explosives without a license. Looker told jurors that he didn’t know it was illegal to build bombs. Looker was the self-styled "general" of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia. A second trial is scheduled on other charges.

August 8, Kansas: A common law court in Topeka Kansas, meeting in the state capitol building "impeaches" U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten. Because the group called itself the Kansas Territorial Agriculture Society, state officials did not realize the its nature. Members wanted to "impeach" Marten for jailing a Kansas couple and seizing their land for not paying income taxes. The group plans to impeach federal and state judges and the state attorney general. Eventually the state legislature will revoke their authorization.

August 12, 1997, Florida: Common law court activists in Florida receive a major setback as Emilio Ippolito, head of the "Constitutional Common Law Court" and his followers receive convictions for conspiring to intimidate legal authorities. The jury brings back 82 verdicts (60 of them guilty verdicts), convicting Ippolito and his daughter Susan Mokdad on numerous counts, and four other individuals on a lesser number of charges. A seventh defendant was found guilty on all counts, while an eighth was acquitted on the counts against him. The lengthy trial lasted three months. The 71-year old Ippolito faces up to 186 years in prison.

August 12, 1997, Montana: The Montana State Supreme Court throws out a lawsuit filed by former Cascade, Montana, mayor Tom Klock, removed from office in 1995 after he deposited $20 million in Montana Freemen bogus money orders in Cascade’s bank account in 1995. Klock filed a lawsuit against the town and county accusing them of conspiring to violate his civil rights. The state had charged Klock on three counts, but dropped them because the federal government planned to file federal charges against him. So far, it has filed no charges.

August 13, 1997, West Virginia: Floyd Looker pleads guilty to selling blueprints of an FBI fingerprinting facility to a suspected terrorist group (actually an undercover agent) just one day before his trial is scheduled to begin. His plea agreement calls for a maximum of 25 years in prison; the government drops six remaining counts against him.

August 14, 1997, Utah: Tax protester Rulon Frederick DeYoung is found guilty on six counts each of second-degree felony tax evasion and third-degree felony failure to file a proper tax return. The former school bus driver faces up to 30 years in prison. DeYoung’s case was the first tried by the Utah State Tax Commission’s new criminal investigation unit.

August 15, Iowa: A federal judge fines 32 tax protesters $36,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit against the government. The group, led by Paul Graber of Fairfield, Iowa, filed a suit arguing that income taxes were voluntary and that their having to pay taxes violated the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery. They asked for $672 million in damages. The judge fines Graber $5,000 and the others $1,000 each.

August 19, Minnesota: Tax protesters Marilyn and Ronald Kerkvliet try to sue their judge at their sentencing hearing in federal court in St. Paul. However, the tactic fails; US District Judge Paul Magnuson recesses the hearing long enough for another federal judge to hear and reject the couple’s suit. Magnuson then sentences the two, along with a third person, Roger Leffler, for their use of bogus money orders obtained from the Montana Freemen. Marilyn Kerkvliet receives four years and two months on eight counts of mail fraud and passing counterfeit checks, while her husband receives one year and nine months on a single mail fraud charge. Leffler receives a sentence of two years and three months.

August 19, 1997, New Hampshire: Carl Drega, a self-described "sovereign citizen" who had engaged in a long-running battle with local authorities over taxes and various zoning and local ordinances, embarks upon a murderous rampage. Drega first kills two New Hampshire state troopers who pull him over for a motor vehicle equipment violation; this was apparently an ambush on Drega’s part. Drega then drives into Colebrook, New Hampshire, and murders a part-time judge, as well as a newspaper editor who tries to apprehend him. Leaving in a police cruiser, he drives to his home and sets fire to it, apparently to create a diversion. However, authorities catch up with him and engage him in a 45-minute firefight that results in his death. His home contains a huge arsenal of plastic explosives, pipe bombs and other deadly materials.

August 20, 1997, Oklahoma: Kansas resident Karen Pearl Hanzlicek is sentenced to 23 months in prison on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and passing illegal checks obtained from the Montana Freemen. Her husband Bill receives a lesser sentence.

August 21, 1997, Ohio: Kevin Caes of Clarksville, Tennessee, is arraigned on charges of kidnapping and rape after being arrested for allegedly kidnapping a woman from Nashville, Tennessee, bringing her to Harrison Township, Ohio, then raping and torturing her for more than a week at his parents’ home. Police find six guns, bomb-making equipment, and considerable white supremacist and survivalist literature.

August 25, 1997, West Virginia: The first trial under the new federal anti-terrorist law results in a conviction for firefighter James Rogers for his role in a plot by the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia to blow up an FBI fingerprinting facility. He faces ten years in prison.

August 25, 1997, Ohio: Tony Gamble, Imperial Wizard of the Tristate Knight Riders of the Ku Klux Klan, is arrested in Cincinnati on rape and sodomy charges involving sexual abuse of a 13 year old girl for a period of a year and a half.

August 26, 1997, Michigan: Brendon Blasz, a Michigan Militia member, is sentenced to 37 months in jail by a federal court for making and carrying pipe bombs. His sentence could have been up to 71 months without parole, but Blasz makes a plea agreement to help authorities with other investigations associated with Michigan Militia members.

August 27, 1997, North Carolina: Montana Freeman Russell Landers receives a 30 year sentence for purchasing vehicles in North Carolina with bogus money orders to drive to Montana to outfit an armed convoy designed to kidnap public officials in Montana. An associate, James Wells, receives a 12 year sentence.

August 29, 1997, Texas: Police arrest two Republic of Texas members in Fort Davis, Texas, as they attempt to serve "civil federal summonses" on people disliked by jailed Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren. Theresa Holt and Susan Blackmon are held on misdemeanor trespassing charges.

August 29, 1997, Arkansas: Two men, including Patrick Bernet, a member of the Republic of Texas, create a bomb scare at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, when they toss two heavy envelopes into the fourth-floor office of a circuit court judge then run away. The envelopes actually contain copies of a lawsuit that Republic of Texas members had filed against the judge and other officials. Bernet faces a trial of his own in Little Rock Municipal Court in upcoming weeks on charges of filing bogus liens against public officials.

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SEPTEMBER

September 4, 1997, Arkansas: Patrick Bernet (see above) is arrested inside the federal courthouse in Little Rock. He was scheduled to appear before a municipal court on two counts of filing a false lien; when he failed to appear, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Police find him in a bathroom in the federal courthouse four blocks away. Federal marshals also arrest Clifford Finch of North Little Rock for assaulting a U.S. marshal shortly after the arrest.

September 4, 1997, Montana: Stewart Waterhouse, the Arkansas militia figure and fugitive who entered the Montana Freemen compound in the spring of 1996 to aid them during their standoff with federal authorities, pleads guilty in federal court to hindering the FBI from arresting the Freemen. He pleads guilty to one count of being an accessory after the fact; the government will in return seek dismissal of a second charge accusing Waterhouse of being a fugitive in possession of a firearm. Waterhouse will cooperate fully with authorities and provide a statement of all his activities and knowledge of the other Freemen defendants. He is the second of the 24 jailed Montana Freemen to plead guilty.

September 5, 1997, Montana: Montana Freeman Casey Clark pleads guilty to being an accessory after the fact in a plea bargain arranged by his attorney. Clark is one of the very few Montana Freemen to have attorneys; the rest represent themselves. As part of the agreement, Clark will cooperate fully with authorities, but will not have to testify against family members or against the closely-tied Stanton family. Clark is the third Freemen to accept a plea bargain.

September 5, 1997, Utah: Gloria Ward, one of the members of the Montana Freemen who held off authorities for 81 days in remote eastern Montana, is sentenced to 15 months in prison for Social Security fraud.

September 8, 1997, Arizona; Charles Knight, a member of the Arizona Viper Militia, is sentenced to 57 months in prison and a $5,000 fine for a conviction involving conspiracy to make or possess unregistered explosive devices. Ten members previously pled guilty; a twelfth member still awaits trial. Knight claimed the group’s involvement with explosive devices was merely for entertainment, and that if it had been a sewing circle blowing things up in the desert, no one would have been alarmed.

September 8, 1997, New Hampshire: Brian Chabot is sentenced to ten months in prison and home detention for his role in stealing $100,000 worth of military equipment from Fort Devens in 1995. Chabot and two other members of the militia group called the Hillsborough County Dragons stole the equipment, then later offered to retrieve it for authorities from "organized crime."

September 9, 1997, Pennsylvania: Fugitive Grant McEwan of Lake Mary, Florida, is arrested in Pennsylvania by federal and state law enforcement officers. McEwan, a millionaire, vanished from a cruise ship in 1996 a few weeks before his trial on tax protest and weapons charges was to begin. A former militia organizer who contends that he is a "sovereign citizen," he was arrested in November 1994 for filing a bogus $1.1 million lien against the government and for threatening to take over an IRS office.

September 17, Kansas: Robert Riccomini, an employee of the Kansas Department of Corrections, is charged with attempted felony theft in connection with writing a bogus money order in 1995 for more than $20,000 to the Capitol City State Bank in Topeka. Riccomini is associated with a loose collection of right-wing extremists centered around St. Marys, Kansas, members of which have been involved in a number of crimes across the country. The money order was one created by the Montana Freemen. Pottawatomie County Sheriff Tony Metcalf estimates that over $4 million in bogus money orders were written in his county alone.

September 17, Texas: Kerr County law enforcement officers arrest self-proclaimed militia leader Carl Schier for possession of an explosive device (and marijuana). His mother called 911 after her bathroom exploded; when searching the premises, authorities found homemade explosives. Explosives had been seized from Schier in the past.

September 18, Minnesota: Authorities arrest a group of Minnesota tax protesters for attempting to avoid taxes by moving money offshore and for using bogus money orders to pay back taxes. Indicted are Marilyn and Ronald Kerkvliet (previously convicted on other charges; see above), Milton Bigalk, Kenneth Bigalk, and Marvin Pullman.

September 19, Texas: Republic of Texas fugitive Richard Keyes is arrested on a country road in East Texas, 55 miles north of Houston. Keyes was the sole Republic of Texas member involved in a weeklong standoff with authorities earlier this year to escape. He eluded pursuers for months. He is charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and two counts of aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon, as well as unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Keyes was originally from St. Marys, Kansas (see above).

September 19, West Virginia: A jury acquits of all charges two of seven militia members arrested in connection with a plot to destroy an FBI fingerprinting facility in Clarksburg, West Virginia. James Johnson and Imam Lewis, both of Ohio, were accused of providing 1,000 explosive devices to the Mountaineer Militia, but their lawyers argued that the devices were simply high-powered firecrackers. The five other members either pled guilty or were convicted.

September 19, Texas: Carl Jay Waskom, Jr., pleads guilty to one count of conspiracy to affect interstate conspiracy by robbery. He is one of four white supremacists arrested in connection with a plot to bomb a natural gas processing plant in North Texas as a diversion in order to commit a bank robbery.

September 20, 1997: Idaho. Two Pennsylvania brothers, Craig and Doug Brodrick, kill a police officer and wound another in downtown Boise during a traffic stop. The gun battle ends in their deaths as well. Stopped for failing to signal, the brothers open fire on officers, seven of whom are eventually involved in the shootout. Police later search their residence, finding a variety of weapons, ammunition, and samurai swords. One of the rifles had been illegally converted or partially converted to fully automatic. Also found were various guides on building explosives.

September 22, 1997, Illinois: Shirley Allen of Roby, Illinois, begins a standoff with local and state authorities after shooting at a sheriff’s deputy who tried to execute a court order for her to undergo a mental examination, sought by members of her family. Allen pointed a shotgun at police negotiators, after which state troopers fired "bean-bag shots" at her. She then fired the shotgun at police. Her standoff, which stretches on for weeks, becomes a "cause celebre" among the militia and patriot movement, resulting in militiamen and similar individuals showing up from around the country to protest.

September 24, 1997, Arkansas: White supremacists Chevie Kehoe and Danny Lee are charged in Pope County, Arkansas, for their role in the murder of an Arkansas gun dealer, his wife and their daughter in 1996. Kehoe and his brother Cheyne are already in custody for a shootout with police officers in Wilmington, Ohio, earlier this year. Kehoe and Lee have connections with various skinhead and neo-nazi groups in the Pacific. Lee is arrested in Yukon, Oklahoma.

September 24, 1997, California: Federal agents arrest Frank Boyd Cockrell II, of Sherman Oaks, California, for plotting to blow up the Ventura County Courthouse. Cockrell wanted to destroy the evidence in his upcoming securities fraud trial, but he unfortunately enlisted the aid of an undercover agent posing as a member of a militia. Cockrell’s plan involved murdering a couple to rob them to finance the bombing; he gave the agent a $2,000 down payment. Cockrell also planned to blow up the Ventura Freeway, destroy an oil refiner and various other extravagant schemes.

September 30, 1997, Washington: Brian Ratigan, the fourth member of the "Spokane Bank Bandits" (see above) to be arrested, is convicted of bombing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Spokane in July 1996 and taking part in a bank robbery the same day. He faces at least 50 years in prison.

 

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