Serious federal conspiracy and firearms charges remain in place against Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, and he’s still in jail, even though state murder-conspiracy charges have been dismissed.
Cox is at the center of an alleged plot by the Alaska Peacemakers Militia to kidnap or kill Alaska state troopers and a Fairbanks judge. As that case goes forward, its connection with “sovereign citizen” antigovernment activities elsewhere is becoming more apparent – and alarming.
One antigovernment activist in Washington State, who served on a pseudo-legal “common-law” jury that “acquitted” Cox, reportedly likened shooting police officers to pheasant hunting.
The dismissal of state conspiracy to commit murder charge against Cox came last Friday, just 10 days after a state judge in Alaska ruled that prosecutors couldn’t use more than 100 hours of audio and video surveillance as evidence in the state trial of Cox. State Judge David Stewart held those secret recordings made by the FBI during a six-month investigation violated Alaska’s constitution because they were made without a search warrant.
But such secret recordings made by FBI informants wearing a wire are routinely used in federal criminal cases unless they are suppressed by U.S. District Court judges for legal technicalities. No challenge to the recordings has yet been raised in the U.S. District Court case pending against in the District of Alaska, but that legal maneuver still could be filed by defense attorneys for Cox or three co-defendants.
Cox will face a federal jury in Alaska on charges of conspiracy to possess unregistered silencers and destructive devices; possession of unregistered destructive devices; possession of an unregistered silencer; making a silencer and two counts of possessing of an unregistered machine gun.
A trial date hasn’t been set, but it’s expected early next year.
While he sits in jail without bond, the 27-year-old antigovernment activist is becoming a poster star, of sorts, for the extremist, antigovernment sovereign citizen movement. His ties to similar extremists in other states, including the state of Washington, also are floating to the surface.
In Washington, four people who were part of an antigovernment group variously called the “Sovereign Assemblies" or “Assemblies of the Counties at Large” are facing federal charges related to tax evasion, illegal possession of firearms and threatening public officials.
Those same sovereign activists formed their own tribunal after Cox’s arrest, and declared him “not guilty” of the charges he faces in Alaska.
Such common-law courts, along with fraudulent “redemption” schemes and continuing threats to law enforcement officers, are one of the reasons why the FBI this fall issued a report calling sovereign extremists a leading domestic terrorism threat.
Federal prosecutors say Cox’s associates in the “Sovereign Assemblies” are deputizing themselves as “county rangers,” issuing their own license plates and carrying on an anti-IRS crusade. They’ve also been accused of threatening to abduct elected officials, including Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, SeattlePI.com. reported last week.
One of the Washington state activists, “county ranger” Raymond Jarlik Bell, of Yelm, Wash., was shocked with a Taser last year after a deputy stopped the vehicle he was driving without legitimate plates. As a sovereign, Bell had fashioned his own license plates and was carrying a “county ranger” badge, supposedly giving him arrest powers.
SeattlePI.com reported that Bell told arresting officers he “really didn’t appreciate being tased and they [officers] are lucky I didn’t have my shotgun with me or there would have been a bunch of dead cops.”
“Not that I’m hunting cops; but like hunting pheasant, when you see one, you shoot one,” Bell reportedly said.