Last updated February 18, 1998
Calendar of Conspiracy, Volume 1, Number 4: A Chronology of Anti-Government Extremist Criminal Activity, October to December 1997
A Militia Watchdog Special Report
The following is a chronology of some of the events surrounding anti-government criminal activity in the United States during the fourth quarter of the year 1997. It illustrates both the scope of such activityfrom large-scale acts of terrorism to local acts of harassment and intimidationand its geographic extentfrom major cities like Los Angeles and New York 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-six states, but activity occurs in every state in the country.
October 3, Missouri: In a plea agreement, prosecutors agree to drop five criminal charges of "simulating legal process" against Clarence Korte in return for an acknowledgement by Korte that the documents filed (bogus liens and other "common law" documents) are illegal and a promise not to file any more such documents. The state attorney general's office extends a similar deal to 44 other people facing similar misdemeanor charges. Of the 56 people originally charged, eleven others had already pled guilty.
October 3, Missouri: Three common law court activists receive a light sentence of five years' probation for their role in filing bogus liens in order to intimidate a county judge. The three, Melvin Lenk, George Castle, and Chris Charles Detmer, were convicted of tampering with a judicial officer. The fifteen other individuals involved in the case had already been sentenced to prison terms that ranged from two to seven years.
October 3, Oklahoma: Two common law court activists receive prison sentences for their role in a multistate fraud case. Darrell Frech, who receives nine years in prison, and Sally Marie Frech, who receives nearly five years in prison, were convicted on thirteen felony counts of conspiracy to defraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The Freches were involved with the "We the People" scam, which tried to convince victims that the federal government had gone bankrupt and that a class action suit launched over this fact would net participants millions of dollars.
October 7, Texas: Three Ku Klux Klan members plead guilty to conspiracy to affect interstate commerce by robbery and physical violence, and to possession of an unregistered destructive device. The trio, Edward Taylor, Shawn Dee Adams and Catherine Dee Adams (along with a fourth defendant, Carl Waskom, who pled guilty in September) had plotted to blow up a natural gas processing plant in North Texas as a diversion. While authorities concentrated on the explosion, the group planned to rob an armored car, then use the money to fund more acts of terrorism.
October 7, Ohio: A jury convicts Peter Langan of the Midwestern Bank Bandits, a.k.a. "Aryan Republican Army," on four counts relating to his shootout in 1996 with federal agents who had come to arrest him for his role in a string of armed bank robberies designed to fund Langan's white supremacist group and other similar groups.
October 8, California: Authorities seeking to arrest probation violator and white supremacist Jeffrey Stuart Martin discover an arsenal of more than sixty-five weapons, including assault weapons, at his house. When Martin refuses to open his door, law enforcement officers force their way inside to find him hiding in the attic. Authorities also arrest his mother, Kathleen Rose Ezakovich, her husband, Charles Ezakovich, and Greg James Hallahan on drug charges, after police find a half-pound of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Martin had previously been convicted on a hate-crime violation.
October 9, Idaho: Six self-proclaimed constitutionalists receive convictions on 23 federal counts of fraud and intimidation, including mail fraud, conspiring to defraud and make false claims against the federal government, mailing threatening communications, attempting to intimidate a federal court officer and trying to interfere with interstate commerce through extortion. Convicted are Joseph Brodin, Richard Iverson, John Burns, G. Michael Gott, Camilla Burns and Elaine Gott. Iverson is from Ohio; the others from Idaho. The defendants face over 30 years in prison each for their role in tax protest schemes, filing bogus liens, and other activities.
October 12, Massachusetts: Aryan Nations member Michael Davern is recaptured in Massachusetts after escaping from a Vermont state prison. He had been serving time for armed robbery, an increasingly common tactic of white supremacists.
October 14, Colorado, Kansas: Tom Newman pleads guilty to ten counts of possessing pipe bombs and his wife, Kimberly, pleads guilty to having knowledge of her husband's acts. The Wichita, Kansas, residents were part of a militia conspiracy to attack several U.S. military installations suspected of training UN troops.
October 14, California: Four members of the tax protest group Juris Christian Assembly --Roger Knight, George Reed, Terry Ingram and Janice Mallen--are sentenced to terms ranging from home confinement for six months up to a 70 month prison sentence for their role in assaulting Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder Karen Mathews. Mathews had refused to file their bogus legal documents.
October 16, Oklahoma: White supremacist James Viefhaus, Jr., receives a three year prison sentence on conspiracy and bomb-making charges in connection with a plot to bomb fifteen U.S. cities.
October 17, Wisconsin: A Wisconsin circuit court judge sentences anti-abortion activist Dale Pultz to thirteen months in prison for trying to harass a Milwaukee county judge by placing a bogus lien on his property and issuing an arrest warrant for him.
October 17, Wisconsin: Three tax protesters are found guilty on federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the IRS. Frank Wysocki, Alan Cooper and Robert Iacoe, who represented themselves in their trial, had formed Sovereign Citizens of Liberty in 1991 to sell "un-tax" packages to people who did not want to pay taxes. The organization grew to between 60 and 80 members. Wysocki faces up to 41 years in prison, Cooper 26 years and Iacoe up to five years.
October 23, Montana: LeRoy Schweitzer, leader of the notorious Montana Freemen, is sentenced to 27 months in prison for failing to pay income taxes and refusing to appear for trial. He is also required to pay $200,000 in fines and $112,683 in back taxes. Schweitzer, who still faces trial on a variety of other counts, is unlikely to pay.
October 27, West Virginia: Terry Coon, the last of the seven West Virginia Mountaineer Militia defendants to go to trial, is convicted on five counts related to bringing plastic explosives, TNT, grenades and a sawed-off shotgun across state lines from Pennsylvania to West Virginia. Coon faces up to fifty years in prison. Of the other defendants, two were acquitted while the rest either pled guilty or were convicted.
October 27, California: May Isobel Oxx is sentenced to two years probation on charges of jury tampering in the trial of common law court activist Elizabeth Broderick.
October 29, Minnesota: Tax protesters Marilyn and Ronald Kerkvliet plead guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the IRS through setting up fraudulent trusts and sending them fake documents. The two are already serving prison sentences for mail fraud and passing bogus checks. Other co-defendants still await trial.
October 29, Washington: Verne Jay Merrell, leader of the white supremacists who committed armed robberies and bombings in the Spokane area in 1996, allegedly as Phineas Priests, receives a sentence of two consecutive life terms, plus an additional sixty-four years.
October 31, Texas: Following a tumultuous trial, Republic of Texas leaders Richard McLaren and Richard "White Eagle" Otto are convicted on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity by a jury which took only two hours of deliberations to arrive at the verdicts. The charges centered around the armed kidnapping of two neighbors of McLaren following the arrest of a Republic of Texas member. In early November, McLaren will receive a term of 99 years in prison and Otto a term of 50 years.
November 2, Virginia: North Carolina Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon J. J. Jones is arrested on check fraud charges following a Klan rally in Virginia.
November 4, Washington: Two more of the white supremacists convicted on armed robbery and bomb charges in connection with alleged Phineas Priest actions receive life sentence terms. Charles Barbee and Robert Berry each receive two consecutive life terms.
November 6, Wisconsin: Merlon Lingenfelter, Jr., pleads guilty to unlawfully possessing a machine gun as part of a plea bargain following his arrest on firearms and explosives charges related to a militia plot to assault U.S. military installations suspected of training U.N. soldiers.
November 6, Florida: Two anti-government activists, members of "Greater Ministries International," are indicted on 42 counts of racketeering, securities fraud and similar charges. Indicted are Patrick Henry Talbert, a "church elder," and Norman Lower, a volunteer for the group. The indictment is not related to the group itself, which remains under investigation for money laundering and fraud related to a suspected Ponzi scheme. Talbert and Lower were named unindicted co-conspirators for the 1997 obstruction of justice and conspiracy trial of Emilio Ippolito and eight of his common law court followers.
November 12, Tennessee: Memphis resident and "sovereign citizen" David Waller is convicted on several tax protest charges. Waller, who claims to be exempt from income taxes because he is not a U.S. citizen, is ironically an employee of the Federal Aviation Administration. He faces up to six years in prison and several hundred thousand dollars in fines.
November 13, Colorado: Ku Klux Klan member and skinhead Matthaeus Jaehnig, also associated with Aryan Nations, murders a Denver police officer, Bruce Vander Jagt, during a large shootout with Denver police, who had pursued Jaehnig and others after a burglary. Jaehnig then kills himself with his firearm.
November 13, Nevada: Anti-government activist John Brinar is sentenced to nearly three years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of unlawfully possessing a firearm and one count of unlawfully transferring a firearm. He originally faced 14 counts of firearms violations as one of sixty people arrested in July 1996 after an extensive investigation by Las Vegas Police and the ATF. Brinar earlier claimed that he had been entrapped because of his friendships with militia members.
November 13, California: Tax protester Frederick Tupper Saussy III is arrested by U.S. marshals in Los Angeles after nearly ten years on the run. The former Nashville advertising executive was convicted in 1985 on tax charges and sentenced to one year in prison; instead, Saussy became a fugitive. Prior to his conviction, Saussy had been a prominent figure in the tax protest movement.
November 14, Texas: Two more Republic of Texas members, Richard George Kieninger and Linh Ngoc Vu, are indicted on mail and bank fraud charges related to their Republic of Texas activities. Kieninger faces up to 570 years in prison; Vu 90. Nine Republic of Texas members, including leader Richard McLaren have so far been charged in the federal case.
November 14, Utah: Tax protester John David Cox, facing up to twenty years in prison on six felony charges, pleads guilty to two felony counts of state income tax evasion in order to get a sentence of probation. Cox is one of numerous Utah tax protesters who decide to pay their taxes after seeing one of their number receive a fifteen year sentence as part of a renewed effort by Utah to deal with tax protesters.
November 14, Michigan: Notorious militia proponent and "patriot" broadcaster Mark Koernke is arrested by local police, charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon after Koernke allegedly used a rifle to bludgeon a process server delivering him a subpoena to appear as a witness at a murder trial involving another militia member.
November 18, Arizona: Christopher Floyd, the last of the Viper Militia members arrested in 1996 on firearms and explosives charges, is acquitted on the charge of possessing explosives. A mistrial is declared on the remaining conspiracy count against him after his jury deadlocks. Floyd is the only one of the twelve members not to receive a prison sentence.
November 19, Florida: Federal Communications Commission agents shut down an unlicensed "pirate" radio station that broadcasts anti-government sentiment and arrest operator Arthur Kobres on fourteen counts related to operating a radio without a license. Kobres had operated "Lutz Community Radio" on the FM band. Kobres and his wife Cheryl were unindicted co-conspirators in the federal trial of Emilio Ippolito and his Constitutional Common Law Court. Agents claimed the content of his broadcasts played no role in the arrest, but that the fact that he had started broadcasting again after a previous seizure of equipment in 1996 was a factor.
November 25, Florida: Tax protester and militia organizer Grant McEwan pleads guilty to six charges involving filing $1.1 million worth of bogus liens against the IRS, failure to file income tax returns, threatening IRS employees and bond-jumping. McEwan, a millionaire, fled Florida a few weeks before his February 1996 trial; he was arrested in Pennsylvania earlier this year.
December 1, Maine: Maine real estate agents and tax protesters Manchester and Sandra Wheeler are indicted on multiple counts of tax evasion and failure to file returns. The couple used typical tax protest arguments, including the claim that the legal definition of "income" is "unclear."
December 2, Washington: Brian Ratigan receives a sentence of 55 years for his role in the bombing and robbery spree by a group of white supremacists alleged to be Phineas Priests. Three other men received multiple life sentences earlier; the investigation is not yet closed.
December 2, New York: One hundred current and former New York City employees are charged with evading state and city income taxes. Approximately half of the suspects used "sovereign citizen" ruses, claiming they were not "United States" citizens. The suspects charged include 69 corrections officers, four corrections captains, three Sanitation police officers and three NYPD traffic enforcement agents. Among the groups to which various suspects had ties were the Moorish Nation, the Lions of Freedom and the Financial Empowerment Group. Three other people are accused of selling kits to city employees to avoid taxes. The Lions of Freedom sell an $89.95 home-study course called the "Organic Sovereign American Freeman Compendium." One year ago, eleven New York City police officers were arrested in a similar scheme. Forty more city employees were suspended from work but not charged.
December 4, Colorado: Two militia figures linked to a plot to attack U.S. military bases suspected of training U.N. soldiers receive jail sentences. Kevin Hobeck is sentenced to 21 months in jail, while his wife Terry receives a sentence of 18 months. The two pled guilty to possession of a machine gun following their July arrest. The Hobecks, both from Ohio, reportedly sold their trucking firm there in order to raise cash for the group's efforts. They were supposed to maintain a safe house in Colorado to which other members could return after launching attacks.
December 10, Texas; Texas Rangers arrest William Dean Alcorn for his role in helping Republic of Texas fugitive Richard Keyes avoid capture. He is charged with hindering apprehension, a third-degree felony. Keyes had been a member of the Republic of Texas faction at Ft. Davis that committed armed kidnapping and subsequently instigated a standoff with state and local authorities.
December 12, Arkansas: Chevie Kehoe, Daniel Lewis Lee and Faron E. Lovelace are charged with various federal counts of racketeering, conspiracy and murder for actions committed while trying to establish an "Aryan People's Republic." The three planned to create the polygamous white supremacist nation through robberies, kidnapping, murder and trafficking in stolen property. Lovelace has already been convicted of murder in Idaho, while Kehoe and Lee have been charged with the 1996 deaths of an Arkansas gun dealer, his wife, and eight-year-old daughter. Chevie Kehoe and his brother Cheyne received considerable publicity in early 1996 for their notorious shootout with Ohio police officers. Arkansas officials announce that they will drop the murder charges and cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's office on the federal charges.
December 12, Pennsylvania: Aryan Republican Army member Scott Stedeford pleads guilty in federal court to conspiring in six bank robberies and participating in one of them. Stedeford was a member of a small white supremacist group, dubbed the Midwestern Bank Bandits by others, which committed over 20 robberies in the mid-1990s in order to raise funds for extremist activities. Stedeford faces a mandatory sentence of at least 20 years. He is already serving a 9 1/2 year term for a bank robbery in West Des Moines, Iowa. As part of his plea, Stedeford will not face charges in any of the other robberies.
December 12, Washington: Common law court activist James Dalton Bell, who wrote an Internet essay advocating rewarding people who assassinated government officials, receives a sentence of four months in jail and a multi-year probation for obstructing the Internal Revenue Service and using false Social Security numbers. He pled guilty in July, admitting that he had collected the names and home addresses of IRS employees and planted a stink bomb at an IRS office.
December 18, Idaho: Idaho constitutionalists and tax protesters John and Camilla Burns receive sentences of 16 and 10 years respectively for their role in various "patriot" scams (see above). Also sentenced were Joseph Brodin, 17 years, and Richard Iverson, 16 years. Two remaining defendants have yet to be sentenced.
December 23, Colorado, Oklahoma: In a controversial decision, a jury convicts Oklahoma City bombing suspect Terry Nichols of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, but finds him not guilty of the actual use of a weapon of mass destruction, or destruction by explosive. The jury also opts for manslaughter convictions rather than second-degree murder convictions relating to the death of eight federal agents.
December 24, Texas: Federal agents arrest four Republic of Texas members for not appearing in court for a fraud case. Arrested were Joe Louis Reece, Steven Craig Crear, Erwin Leo Brown and Jasper Edward Baccus (who surrendered earlier).