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Heavily armed members of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia, equipped with live grenades and assault rifles, stopped private citizens, demanded identifications and prevented some from traveling to their homes and jobs, a new indictment alleges.
The indictment includes serious additional federal charges against militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox and commanders Coleman L. Barney and Lonnie G. Vernon. Additionally, the new charging document also provides expanded details about how well supplied and organized the militia group had become before FBI agents arrested Cox and the others in March.
For example, the militia group’s sophistication with illegal munitions was at the point that its leaders were debating the value of buying illegal grenades with two-second fuses versus those with eight-second fuses, the indictment says.
And on one maneuver, while violating the Constitution and stopping unsuspecting Alaska residents at gunpoint, members of the secret militia were equipped with body armor, semi-automatic rifles and grenade launchers loaded with deadly “hornets nest” grenades.
Cox, Barney and Vernon were arming their Peacemaker militia in the collective belief that soon the group “would be compelled to take up arms against the government” or take over in the event of a government collapse, the superseding indictment filed last week says.
“In preparation for this eventuality, the Alaska Assembly Post established a military arm, a legal arm, its own judiciary and its own monetary currency,” it alleges.
“The illegal firearms, machine guns, destructive devices and firearms silencers were possessed with the intent to thwart any effort by law enforcement from taking Cox into custody and … in furtherance of Cox’s believe that no governmental law, state or federal applied to him (because) of his status as a sovereign citizen,’’ it adds.
In November 2010, when Cox was scheduled for a television interview in North Pole, Alaska, his militia squad designed an “operational-tactical plan” to provide him security in the “belief that a federal and completely fictitious ‘hit team’ had been sent to Fairbanks to assassinate him,” the indictment says.
As commander of the armed security detail, Barney wore body armor and carried an assault rifle equipped with a 37mm grenade launcher armed with a live “Hornets Nest” grenade. Its anti-personnel projectiles were “capable of inflicting lethal injuries,” the indictment says.
While Cox was doing the television interview, his militia security force was outdoors, nearby, trespassing on private property and conducting patrols. The militia team “constructed a vehicular funneling point in order to stop and inspect vehicles and (obtain) identities of private citizens.” The militia members “stopped private citizens without lawful authority under the force of arms,” the indictment says.
Also in November 2010, Cox paid for 16,000 newspaper advertisements that said the laws of the state’s judiciary “have been fraudulently displaced by a privately owned for-profit corporation deceptively named the ‘Alaska Court system.’” The ad said the Alaska court system and the Alaska Bar Association were “under criminal investigation,” and said Alaska citizens facing civil judgments could learn how to have them voided by attending a meeting sponsored by the Peacemaker militia.
The following month, Cox, Barney and their militia’s Alaska Assembly Post organized a pseudo-legal “common law” court to put Cox on trial for Alaska law violations he faced or had pleaded guilty to in state court. The “common law” jury, which included Barney and Vernon, quickly acquitted Cox of everything.
Afterwards, at a December 2010 court hearing, Cox told Alaska District Court Judge Jane F. Kauvar that neither the state court system nor the state government “had any jurisdiction over him,” and he boasted that his militia “had the Alaska State Troopers outmanned and outgunned,” the indictment says.
Cox failed to appear for his next court hearing, becoming a fugitive who sought refuge in the homes of Vernon and Barney.
Last February, the indictment alleges Cox instructed Vernon and another person, who isn’t identified, to travel to Anchorage to “acquire hand grenades” and the highly dangerous plastic explosive known as C-4. While in Anchorage, Vernon “met with others in an effort to obtain grenade bodies and approximately 50 grenade fuses,” later discussing with Cox where to create “weapons caches” for their militia munitions.
At one meeting with Barney, Cox expressed a desire for grenades with eight-second fuses and asked for grenade powder stronger than the explosive material he had obtained previously. Later, after ordering a handgun equipped with an illegal silencer, Cox attempted to order 25 grenades with eight-second fuses from the same supplier, the indictment alleges.
Cox was the militia bargain shopper. He was looking for a deal in his grenade purchases and asked about a “volume discount,” the indictment says. Cox said if the supplier could get the price down to $70 per grenade, he would buy as many as he could get his hands on, according to the new charging documents.
On March 10, while taking possession of the silencer-equipped pistols they had ordered, Cox, Barney and Vernon also took possession of eight hand grenades, not knowing they were inert, and certainly not knowing they would be arrested moments later by FBI agents. Arraignments on the new charges, which likely will push back trial dates for the defendants, are set for next week in Anchorage.