False Patriots

Profiles of 40 antigovernment leaders
Commander Zero
Rick Ainsworth, 50

Working days as a Florida Department of Revenue investigator, Richard "Rick" Ainsworth has spent the rest of his time in recent years trying to make himself into a major militia leader — a goal that his abrasive personality derails every time.

Starting out as the "Republic of Florida" delegate to the Patriot government-in-waiting known as the Third Continental Congress, Ainsworth wound up heading that group before going on to lead another coalition called the Southeastern States Alliance.

In both cases, he ended up angering colleagues and ultimately quitting over what he perceived as personal slights.

On the way out, he made a habit of accusing his many detractors of being government informants — invective frequently hurled back at him by his erstwhile friends. Kentucky militia leader Charlie Puckett, for instance, reacted to an attack by describing Ainsworth as an "IDIOT" and relating how Ainsworth once told him he "wanted control of all the Militia's [sic] in the United States!"

After alienating most of his former pals, Ainsworth recently began looking for new underlings in the burgeoning neo-Confederate movement, helping to start a group called the Confederate States of America (CSA) with another militia veteran, Bill Cox. But Ainsworth had a falling-out with Cox last fall, accusing him and another CSA official of being informants.


The Hawaiian Ambassador
Elizabeth Broderick, 58

A remarkable aspect of the antigovernment Patriot movement of the 1990s was the way so many "constitutionalists" engaged in ideologically dressed-up scams that boiled down to plain, old-fashioned rip-offs.

Mary Elizabeth Broderick, who already had been convicted of running a pyramid scheme in Colorado, became a Patriot in a big way after learning how to create fake financial instruments from the Montana Freemen.

Court records show that Broderick, who had a well-developed taste for expensive jewelry and other luxuries, offered her own workshops to dupes who were charged $200 apiece to learn how to create fake checks — checks that cost another $200 each.

Ultimately, Broderick and her three accomplices issued about 8,000 phony checks totaling millions of dollars; her personal take was $1.2 million. Broderick, who gave herself the title of the "Lien Queen," told people taking her classes that the checks were backed by $1 billion in liens against the federal government.

In federal court, Broderick told the judge that he had no jurisdiction because she was "an ambassador of the Kingdom of Hawaii" — a remark that drew snickers. In the end, the judge sentenced her to 16 years in federal prison, but not before telling her, "You're not a patriot. You defrauded thousands of people ... who were desperate."


Worst Nightmare
Donald Beauregard, 33

Like many people in the militia movement, Donald Beauregard embarked on an ideological voyage that took him from the ridiculous to the truly dangerous.

Even as he worked at a discount store and later managed a Hickory Farms shop at a St. Petersburg, Fla., mall, Beauregard built a second career as one of the most active militiamen in the Southeast.

He was the leader of the 77th Regiment Militia, a group that in 1995 raised the alarm over a "secret map" displaying how the United Nations planned to take over America — a map, the group explained, that mistakenly had been printed on the back of a Trix cereal box (where, presumably, a breakfasting militiaman discovered it).

The next year, an associate of Beauregard's distributed a 77th Regiment document entitled "Project Worst Nightmare" to other militias that suggested kidnapping "key federal leaders" if the FBI siege of the Montana Freemen ended violently.

In 1998, the FBI said later, Beauregard decided to follow through by blowing up Florida power stations — a fact exposed by Beauregard's "security chief," Rich Ganey, who turned out to be an informant.

Ultimately, in July 2000, Beauregard was sentenced to five years in a federal plea agreement. His lawyer in the case was Nancy Lord Johnson, who is married to J.J. Johnson — a militia sympathizer listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in Beauregard's indictment and the same Beauregard associate who passed out "Project Worst Nightmare" copies back in 1996.


Conduct Unbecoming
Steven Barry, 45

A fervent Catholic given to unfiltered Camel cigarettes, Bushmill's Irish whiskey, and spending time in his North Carolina home wearing nothing but a kilt, Steven Barry is a former Special Forces sniper who once described himself as a "defector in place."

Animated by the standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, Barry began editing an extremist publication, The Resister, and distributing it secretly at Fort Bragg.

He also created a secret group called the Special Forces Underground. Although the Army was less than forthcoming with Congressional investigators of extremism in the military, it ultimately took a close look at Barry and issued him a career-wrecking reprimand in 1996, a year after Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh was arrested with a copy of The Resister in his car.

Today, Barry is out of the Army and has become an open neo-Nazi. From a house decorated with old military signs like "Colored Officers' Showers," he publishes his journal and attends gatherings of a variety of extremist groups ranging from the League of the South to the Council of Conservative Citizens to the neo-Nazi National Alliance.

Although the Alliance has described him as its "military coordinator," Barry says he let his membership lapse some time ago. "Hitler," Barry opined recently, "was good for Germany."