Hutaree Case Ends as Two Plead to Weapons Charges

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.