NH Tax Protesters Arrested Without a Shot

Tax Protesters
Ed Brown and wife.
Former militia leader Ed Brown and his wife, Elaine, repeatedly threatened law enforcement officers in the months leading up to their arrests. When they were finally seized, officials discovered a gigantic arsenal in their heavily fortified home.

Concluding a tense standoff that began five months earlier when they were convicted of tax evasion, federal marshals in Plainfield, N.H., managed to seize two tax protesters who had threatened law enforcement officials with death.

Ed and Elaine Brown were arrested without a shot being fired.

The arrest of the couple, who were each sentenced last April to more than five years in prison, was the work of U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier, who had said repeatedly that he would end the standoff without violence. On Oct. 4, federal agents posing as radical supporters of the Browns made the arrests on the porch of the Brown's isolated home, a fortified house with a gun turret and concrete-reinforced walls. Court papers filed later showed officials also seized a huge arsenal of explosives, rifles, handguns, and homemade bombs packed with nails.

Ed and Elaine Brown, 65 and 67, were convicted of evading $1.9 million in taxes, much of it due on Elaine Brown's dentistry practice, between 1996 and 2003. Like other tax protesters, they claimed the federal income tax is not legal.

The Browns' threats of violence during the standoff were persistent, and seemed to grow more extreme as time passed. According to the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, Ed Brown, speaking on a supportive radio show earlier on the day of the arrests, "endorsed the idea of recruiting assassination squads to target key government enemies." The newspaper said he had also mentioned on several earlier occasions a list of more than 50 names distributed to supporters in case of his arrest. Brown, a former militia leader, had also publicly vowed not to be taken alive.

Brown had widespread support on the radical right, and dozens of sympathizers (including white supremacist icon Randy Weaver, who survived a famous 1993 standoff in Idaho in which his wife and son, along with a U.S. marshal, were killed) visited the home; some apparently supplied not only food but also weapons and explosives. The arrest in September of four of those supporters on accessory and weapons charges seemed to end the trickle of visitors to their home.

Now, the Browns, who were transported to federal prisons immediately after their arrests, face an array of other serious charges. "By their continuing actions," Monier told the Monitor, "allegedly, to obstruct justice, to encourage others to assist them to obstruct justice, by making threats toward law enforcement and other government officials, they have turned this into more than a tax case."