A man whose nickname is “Mouse” is the first member of the Hutaree Militia to strike a plea deal with the Justice Department to avoid the possibility of a lengthy federal prison sentence.
Joshua John Clough, 29, of Blissfield Township, Mich., pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit to use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence – a federal crime that carries a five-year minimum sentence.
Clough was one of nine members of the Hutaree Militia arrested in March 2010 and charged in a plot to make homemade bombs as part of a conspiracy to murder scores of law enforcement officers. Charging documents allege “Mouse” and his co-conspirators hoped the killing of cops would spark a large uprising against the federal government. A superseding indictment returned in June 2010 accuses the defendants of seditious conspiracy and a host of other serious federal crimes.
The Hutaree website claimed its name means “Christian warrior” and described its mission as preparing “for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”
But according to court documents recently filed in the case, the name “Hutaree” was made up by one of the militia leader’s sons as a joke.
It’s not clear from Clough’s plea if he will have to testify against his former militia friends if they take their cases to trial, now set for early next year.
In pleading guilty, Clough admitted he was a member of the Hutaree Militia on Feb. 20, 2010, as the antigovernment group “advocated and prepared for violence against local, state and federal law enforcement.”
The militia group’s goals included bomb-building and using those improvised explosive devices [IEDs] against law enforcement officers and their vehicles as part of a “conspiracy to unlawfully use weapons of mass destruction,” the plea agreement says.
As part of their preparation for the execution of this conspiracy, the Hutaree conducted military-style training in Lenawee County, Mich. The court documents say the training included “weapon proficiency drills, patrolling and reconnaissance exercises and demonstrations of the assembly and use of explosives.”
During those training session, Clough “knowingly used and carried a firearm,” which is the basis for the crime he confessed to in court.
The other defendants in the case are David Brian Stone Sr.; David Brian Stone Jr.; Joshua Matthew Stone; Tina Mae Stone; Michael David Meeks; Thomas William Piatek, Kristopher T. Sickles and Jacob J. Ward.
When authorities searched the rural southeast Michigan home of the group’s reputed leader, David Stone Sr., they found bomb-making materials and instructions. They also found gas masks, knives, machetes, swords and body armor.
At Sickles’ home in Sandusky, Ohio, federal agents seized what was believed to be crack cocaine and steroids. Sickles is alleged to have said that he had killed his cat with a handgun to see if he “could kill something I had a feeling for.”
At Michael Meeks’ home in Norvell, Mich., agents confiscated liquid tear gas, night vision binoculars, guns, ammunition and knives. The government says that Meeks pledged to acquire metal pieces to be used in making IEDs.
At Piatek’s home in Whiting, Ind., agents found a copy of The Turner Diaries, the race war novel written by the late neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. The book is a favorite with white supremacists and antigovernment extremists.