BLM bomb-plot defendant released after two years

A Utah militia leader is being released from federal custody after serving two years in prison for his involvement in an antigovernment plot to bomb a remote Bureau of Land Management facility in Arizona.

William Keebler, 59, of Stockton, Utah, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in April to a single charge of attempted destruction of federal property by use of explosive.

At his sentencing hearing Monday in Salt Lake City, Judge David Sam gave Keebler credit for the two years in custody he has served and ordered him released. The judge referred to Keebler’s medical condition as reasons for not making him serve additional jail time.

The judge ordered forfeiture of two firearms Keebler owned and required him to undergo mental health counseling and not possess or consume alcohol.

Keebler “attempted to detonate an explosive” intended to damage to the BLM’s Mount Trumbull complex, located in a remote corner of Arizona near the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

Keebler, the so-called “commander” of the Patriots Defense Force (PDF) militia, and LaVoy Finicum conducted reconnaissance on the remote BLM facility in late 2015, just months before Finicum was fatally shot during the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Both men were at the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada, with the BLM and federal agents, but neither was charged in criminal indictments related to that event.

Keebler returned to the BLM facility in Arizona, intending to carry out the bombing in mid-June 2016, accompanied by an undercover FBI agent who took photos as an inert bomb was placed against a door, court documents say. Keebler left dejectedly when the device failed to explode and was arrested the next day.

Photo by Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP Images