Jurors in militia case hear informant's recordings

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 22, 2011 file photo, Schaeffer Cox speaks with his attorney Robert John during an arraignment hearing in state court at the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks, Alaska. His baby face belies the allegations against him, that he played a key role plotting with others to murder a judge, state troopers and other government officials in Alaska, a case one expert says is indicative of a booming sovereign citizen movement across the country. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)

ANCHORAGE — Recorded conversations were played for jurors Tuesday in the federal trial of Fairbanks militia leader Schaeffer Cox, who is heard detailing a plan to kill two government agents for every person on his side who is killed.


The recordings of the “241” retaliation plan, which stood for “two-for-one,” were made by an FBI informant who infiltrated Cox’s Alaska Peacemakers Militia.

The informant, Gerald “J.R.” Olson, testified on the 10th day of the trial of Cox , 28, and two others charged with plotting to kill judges, troopers and other government employees. Cox, Coleman Barney, 37, and Lonnie Vernon, 56, also face weapons charges. The men were arrested in March 2011.

Cox is taped saying at a meeting with militia members that two court administrators needed to “dangle together like a wind chime.” On the witness stand Tuesday, Olson said Cox fluttered his fingers as he said this at the meeting, which took place two days before Cox was a no-show at state court to begin a weapons misconduct trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki asked Olson if anyone at the meeting said Cox’s comment about the two court officials was a bad idea.

“No,” Olson said. “Not at all.

Defense attorneys say the government badly overstepped its authority, ensnaring loudmouthed men through the informant, saying he encouraged weapons purchases and pushed for violence. Their clients only intended to defend loved ones in case that ever became necessary because of a social collapse, the defense has argued.

In a recording played Monday, Cox told his men that he, his wife and child had been targeted by a six-man federal hit squad that had arrived in Alaska from a base in Aurora, Colo., the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/xXaGxz) reported. The conversation took place at a planning session for Cox’s security in 2010 at a television interview in North Pole.

“They’re soulless assassins — if we kill them, they’re not going be missed,” Cox said, according to the recording.

Olson testified that he recorded some 100 hours of conversation while he was working undercover.

Prosecutors expect to introduce about five hours’ worth of conversations, including one in which Vernon allegedly attempted to buy hand grenades and a silencer in Anchorage last year.

Olson, 37, is a former logger, trucker and contractor who attended militia meetings as a teenager in his native Montana. Olson worked as a long-haul trucker when he began transporting drugs hidden between grocery shipments. He said he made $70,000 to $90,000 in cash hauling drugs.

With his involvement, Olson avoided his own jail time in an unrelated theft case.

The alleged plot arose after Cox was charged in the state misdemeanor weapons misconduct case. He represented himself at a pretrial hearing where he denied that the Alaska court system was a legitimate judiciary. Cox said he would not attend another hearing until the court system explained its authority over him.

A warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear for trial in the state case in February 2011.

At the recorded meeting two days before he was set to go on trial, Cox said he would be well within his rights to drill in the forehead of the judge involved in that case, a comment noted in charging documents that also alleged murder conspiracy by Cox, Barney, Vernon and others. That case was ultimately dismissed when a judge ruled the FBI recordings captured during a six-month investigation were made without a warrant, a violation of the Alaska Constitution. The FBI has wider authority to obtain warrants, and there is greater leeway in federal court.


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