The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Co-Defendant in Alaska Militia Case Gets Five-Year Sentence

By Bill Morlin on September 25, 2012 - 3:46 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Militias

As he sits in jail awaiting sentencing in November, Alaska Peacemaker Militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox may now be a bit more worried about his fate.

A co-defendant, Coleman Barney – found by an Alaska federal jury to be the least culpable in a murder-conspiracy plot hatched by Schaeffer and members of his militia – was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.

“You got into really bad stuff here,” visiting U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan told the 38-year-old Barney, the Anchorage Daily News reported in today’s editions.

Barney, of the small town of North Pole, was a “major” in Cox’s militia, which plotted to kill a judge and law enforcement officers – only to be caught in an FBI sting involving two informants. Barney was convicted of only one count – possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Cox, 28, of Fairbanks, and Lonnie Vernon, 56, of Salcha, Alaska, were convicted of conspiracy to murder and are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 19 in Anchorage.

Cox, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, also was convicted of conspiracy to possess illegal weapons, two counts of possessing unregistered destructive devices, possession of an unregistered machine gun, illegal possession of a machine gun, illegally making a silencer and illegal possession of a silencer.

Before sentencing, Barney apologized and said he got caught up in antigovernment hype and said things he didn’t mean. A member of the Mormon church, he said he loved his country and that the militia started out as a group of “wonderful Christian men” who wanted to protect their families in case of a government collapse, The Associated Press reported.

“I just beg you to help me get back to my home and my family,” he told the judge, asking to be sentenced to time he has already served since his arrest on March 10, 2011. Federal prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Barney to 10 years in prison.

The judge said during the trial he heard things that were chilling on tapes of militia conversations that were secretly recorded. The judge also took note of what wasn’t said. At no time did he hear Barney tell Cox the murder-and-illegal firearms plot was wrong, the Anchorage newspaper reported.

The judge also talked about First and Second Amendment aspects of the case. “This was not a well-regulated militia,” Bryan said, referring to language in the Second Amendment, but rather a “disorganized group of individuals.”

The judge also said the case wasn’t about free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. “In this country, we not only allow anti-government speech, we welcome it,” he said. “This case is about violation of our criminal laws.”

  • Tom Hopkins

    Frank Schaeffer, the son of Frances and Edith Schaeffer, broke with his father’s group and is now doing what he can to expose the tyranny and hypocrisy of the Christian Right. His book Crazy for God is the younger Schaeffer’s expose of his father’s extreme teachings and its remarkable influence catalyzing the Christian Right. Google Frank Schaeffer to learn more. Fortunately for civilized society, sometimes the apple falls very far from the tree.

  • GDWilliams

    @MB
    Indeed he was named after someone his parents must have dearly hoped he would grow up attempting to emulate.
    From WikiP : Francis Schaeffer: “A number of Christian leaders, authors, and evangelists credit Schaeffer’s ideas with helping spark the rise of the Christian Right in the United States and were strongly influenced by him. Among them are Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson, Prison Fellowship’s Charles Colson, columnist Cal Thomas, preacher and author Tim LaHaye, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and Liberty University and Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell[2].”

    Fascinating. And I had no idea that Harris was of the ilk to try and usher in a theocratic form of government. Given her place at the center of the coup that saw her state use a legal tactic to give GWBush the presidency despite Bush receiving fewer votes than the Democratic challenger, these two incidents alone should serve as ample warning about what we should all expect from a government consisting of these people. Despite knowing the right words to say eg. “patriotism, American exceptionalism, capitalism, democracy, freedom, “the Constitution says…” these are people who are simply unable to conceive of any other form of government than what their authoritarian minds will allow.

  • Eddie Velasquez

    Only 5 years maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.LOL

  • Pickwick

    “A member of the Mormon church, he said he loved his country and that the militia started out as a group of ‘wonderful Christian men’…”

    Seems to be a lot of wonderful Christian men in American militias. My definition of “wonderful” does not include such affiliations.

  • M. Bright

    Francis Schaeffer Cox’ parents named him after a particularly noxious religious fanatic and crackpot who wanted to bring down the US government and replace it with a Christian theocracy.

    Apparently, their son turned out to be everything they could have hoped for. I hope they’re happy.