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Hutaree Case Ends as Two Plead to Weapons Charges

By Bill Morlin on March 29, 2012 - 1:59 pm, Posted in Militias

The two remaining defendants in the government’s case against members of Michigan’s Hutaree Militia pleaded guilty today to federal firearms charges, just two days after a judge dismissed antigovernment conspiracy charges against the pair and five others.

David Stone Sr., 47, and his son Joshua Stone, 23, pleaded guilty to possessing machine guns. They admitted to U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts in a Detroit courtroom that they had two .223-caliber rifles, knowing that the weapons would fire automatically with one trigger pull. Possession of such firearms without proper registration is a federal crime.

After the pleas were entered, the elder Stone – identified by authorities as the Hutaree leader – told the Detroit Free Press that he thinks the case “will only lead to more mistrust of the government by militias.”

Now, they know their paranoia is true, Stone said, claiming he believed the government’s case would fall apart in the end. “I believed in our stance all along and never wavered.”

Prosecutors, however, stood by the federal investigation that they claim broke up a Hutaree plot to kill police officers in hopes of igniting a revolution against the federal government.

“We are gratified that these felony convictions mean that these defendants will never be permitted to possess firearms again,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said after the guilty pleas were entered.

Stone and his son, who have been in jail for two years, were released on bond after their pleas. They are scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Under the terms of the plea agreements, the elder Stone faces 33 to 48 months in prison. Joshua Stone faces 27 to 33 months. The charge carries maximum possible sentences of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

McQuade, the chief federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Michigan, said the court’s order “dismissing the more serious charges in this case was disappointing, but it does not shake our commitment to dismantling groups who would harm our citizens and law enforcement officers, and these efforts will continue.”

“While we disagree with the court’s decision, we respect its role, and we recognize that reasonable minds can disagree on where legal lines are drawn,” McQuade said, thanking members of the jury.

The U.S. attorney also commended the efforts of assistant U.S. attorneys Christopher Graveline and Sheldon Light, along with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and other federal agencies involved in the investigation and trial.

  • RLavigueur

    As a Canadian, the way that some Americans focus on the importance of defending themselves against criminals with handguns or other firearms never ceases to have an almost surreal quality to it. At times, it seems that what is being defended is as much the fantasy scenario in which they heroically save the day as the actual utility of the weapon. For these militias, the fantasy is simply taken further and, tragically, often more seriously.

    What celebrants of self defense via firearms are reluctant to accept is that, in nations with more restrictions on gun ownership, victimhood by violent crime is not higher. In fact, throughout the 2000s, Canada and America had very similar rates of homicide and other violent crimes with the exception of crimes involving firearms, which happen with much more frequency in America. Correlation doesn’t prove causality, but we poor, unarmed Canadians seem to be doing pretty well for ourselves without concealed carry permits and the right to bring handguns to church.

    This isn’t to say that nobody has ever protected his/her family with a gun, but as Robert and Ruslan both note, the devil in the details is “In responsible hands”. The numbers certainly suggest that cases where a gun owner successfully prevents a crime aren’t common enough to make a measurable dent in violent crime overall.

  • Leslie

    Regarding the cost of firearms, I am reminded of the L. A. police department’s program to buy back guns. Some of the people who participated could not afford groceries and were happy to sell their guns for cash. Yes, they are expensive, and that seems to get lost in the discussion.

  • Aron

    Whoops, I misread your by-line Robert. And my apologies to Ruslan as well.

  • Aron


    Don’t get me wrong. I happen to possess a small collection of various firearms for personal recreational use. I feel that it teaches responsibility, and frankly, plinking is just plain fun.

    It’s just the personal-defense obsessives who give use gun owners a bad name. And you’re right. I have friends who collect machine guns, and they spend beyond exorbitant sums of money just to keep them fed. A favorite story involves one of them purchasing an entire ISO CONTAINER full of Argentine 7.92mm Mauser boxes just to feed his collection. It cost him something like $40,000.

    Now that’s some serious walking around money.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “In responsible hands, ” Here’s the problem.

  • Robert Pinkerton

    In responsible hands, the personal handgun is the law-abiding individua’s first line of defense against interpersonal criminal aggression. All that law-enforcement can do, is only after the fact. Despite hoplophobic hand-wringing, defensive uses of a handgun often involve no shot fired.

    Once upon a time, I sat down and figured out the cost of lawfully owning and firing a fully automatic weapon. Suffice it to say the figures gravely offended my sense of financial propriety.

  • Aron

    Sorry, that should have said ‘falling into the hands.’ It’s probably very bad news when a gun — or anything, for that matter — enters one’s hand. Ouchies.

  • Aron

    Sadly, gun control laws have done little to prevent firearms from entering the hands of criminals. I hope this case proves to be an exception.