Nine members of a Lenawee County-based militia group were planning to “levy war” against the United States and “oppose by force” the nation’s government, according to an indictment unsealed this morning in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Seven of the defendants of the “Hutaree” militia appeared briefly this morning in U.S. District Court in Detroit and were ordered held without bond until Wednesday, when bond hearings will be held. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet said he wants all the defendants held pending trial.
The five-count indictment alleges that between August 2008 and the present, the defendants were trying to use bombs and other weapons to oppose the U.S. government.
They had plans to kill a local law enforcement official and, once officers from across the country came to the funeral, to attack the funeral procession, the indictment alleges.
“This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society,” said Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge. “The FBI takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States.”
The eight men and one woman are members of the Hutaree, identified as an “anti-government extremist organization” in the indictment, and each faces three to five charges, including sedition, attempts to use weapons of mass destruction, teaching/demonstrating use of explosive materials and two counts of carrying weapons in relation to a crime of violence.
The Adrian-based group has said it is training in modern combat techniques for a prophesized battle with the anti-Christ.
Accused are: David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, all three of Clayton; and his other son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian. Also accused are Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield; Michael Meeks, 40 of Manchester; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.
Federal authorities say they acted as a Lenawee County militia group called the Hutaree and viewed local, state, and federal law enforcement as the “brotherhood,” their enemy, and have been preparing to engage them in armed conflict.
If convicted, the suspects could face up to life in prison, the maximum penalty on the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The seditious conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, as does the teaching the use of explosives charge. The possession of a firearm charge carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison.
According to federal authorities, the group had identified a Michigan law enforcement officer as a potential target. Their idea was to kill that officer and when law enforcement officials from around the country came to the area for the funeral, they would attack the procession with improvised explosive devices and “explosively formed projectiles.” They hoped the attack would serve as a “catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the government.”
A scouting mission was planned for April and, if someone had stumbled upon the mission, the Hutaree decided they could be killed, according to the indictment.
It was this mission that prompted the raids, said Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“Because the Hutaree had planned a covert reconnaissance operation for April which had the potential of placing an unsuspecting member of the public at risk, the safety of the public and of the law enforcement community demanded intervention at this time,” she said in a prepared statement.
In February, the elder David Brian Stone had tried to go to Kentucky for a so-called summit of militia groups convened by Stone. He intended to develop better communications, cooperation and coordination with the groups. However, poor weather precluded him from attending.
Before going, however, Stone solicited a person he felt could develop four anti-personnel IEDs to take with him to the summit.
Later in February, the group conducted training operations in Lenawee County to plan for the reconnaissance mission.
The indictment also says Stone had identified a law enforcement unit near his residence as a potential target, although the indictment does not say who.
Their goal was to “intimidate and demoralize law enforcement, diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective,” according to the indictment. The group then intended to use the incident to spark a “war” against law enforcement, using bombs, ambushes and prepared fighting positions.
Donna Stone, the ex-wife of David Stone Sr., said her husband’s growing radicalism was a factor in their breakup. She said the couple was married about 10 years ago and divorced about three years ago. David Stone Jr. is her son by another man and is not David Stone Sr.’s natural son, she said. Joshua Stone, who is still at large, is David Stone Sr.’s son with another woman, Donna Stone said.
“You pray as a family, you stay together as a family,” Stone said. “When he got carried away, when he went from handguns to big guns, it’s like, now I’m done.”
Members of the self-described Christian militia were arrested in weekend raids in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The suspects are expected to appear in Detroit in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer; one may appear in court this morning in Indiana.
Mike Lackomar of Michigan-Militia.com said he heard from other militia members that the FBI targeted the Hutaree after its members made threats against Islamic organizations.
Although there had been reports the Hutaree may have targeted Muslims, there is no mention in the indictment of any threats against them.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Sunday asking federal law enforcement officials to release more information about possible threats against Muslims.
“Given the recent sharp spike CAIR offices nationwide have observed in anti-Islam rhetoric, it would not be surprising that an extremist group would seek to turn that bigoted rhetoric into violent actions,” said Nihad Awad, CAIR national executive director in Washington.