Fairbanks militia leader, 3 others moved to jails closer to Anchorage

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks militia leader Schaeffer Cox and three co-defendants were moved from the Fairbanks Correctional Center to jails nearer to Anchorage in preparation for court appearances on Monday.

Cox, along with Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon, are scheduled to be arraigned at the federal courthouse in Anchorage on Monday morning. The three are accused of owning illegal weapons.

Vernon and his wife, Karen Vernon, also are accused in a second case of threatening to kill a federal judge, members of his family and IRS employees over a tax dispute.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday that Cox is being held at Cook Inlet Pretrial Facility, while Barney and Lonnie Vernon are being held at the Anchorage jail. Karen Vernon is being held at Highland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River.

All four are being held without bail pending trials next year.

The group was accused in state court of making a plan to kill Alaska State Troopers and court officials. However, those charges were dropped when it was determined that evidence was illegally obtained. Prosecutors said the decision to dismiss state murder conspiracy and other charges was prompted by a Superior Court judge’s ruling to suppress all electronic evidence in the case.

Judge David Stewart said in his Oct. 17 ruling that audio and video recordings made during a six-month FBI investigation into Cox and his Peacemaker’s Militia are not admissible because they were made without a search warrant, and therefore violate the Alaska Constitution. The FBI has wider authority to obtain warrants.

Federal charges remained in the case.

Authorities have said Cox was an advocate of a “241” retaliation plan — killing or kidnapping two officials for every member of his group who was killed or arrested. Cox and Barney face charges including conspiracy to possess or possession of unregistered silencers, destructive devices, and a machine gun; making a silencer, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.


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