BULLETIN: ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Accused In ‘Two For One’ Plot To Murder Judges, State Troopers In Alaska; ‘Militia’ Had Acquired Grenades, Grenade Launcher, Machine Guns; Another Man Charged Separately In Plot To Kill Federal Judge
BULLETIN: (UPDATED 7:04 P.M. EDT (MARCH 14, U.S.A.) Five residents of Alaska with ties to the so-called “sovereign” citizen and “militia” movements have been charged under state law in an alleged plot to kidnap or murder Alaska state troopers and a state judge in Fairbanks.
One of the suspects was charged separately under federal law with threatening to kill U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline and a member of Beistline’s family. Beistline was presiding over a civil tax case involving one of the state-level defendants, and was targeted “in retaliation for and on account of the performance of his official duties,” according to the indictment.
Charged federally was Lonnie G. Vernon, 55, of Salcha.
Vernon also was charged under state law. Also charged in the state case were Francis “Schaeffer” Cox, 27, of Fairbanks; Karen Vernon, 64, of Salcha; Coleman Barney, 36, of North Pole; and Michael O. Anderson, 35, of Fairbanks. Karen Vernon is Vernon’s wife.
Anderson was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and tampering with evidence. Charges against the other defendants include conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit arson and misconduct involving weapons.
Cox and “others” had acquired hand grenades, a grenade launcher, a .50-caliber machine gun, a .30-caliber machine gun, “dozens” of assault rifles and pistols and “thousands of rounds of ammunition,” according to the state complaint.
Cox filed “nonsensical” pleadings while awaiting trial in a March 2010 case in which he was charged with not announcing he was concealing a handgun when he approached a police officer, according to the state complaint.
In a YouTube video of a court hearing dated Dec. 14, 2010, Cox declared himself a sovereign being and said he did not recognize the authority of the court. Perhaps to amplify his disrespect for the court, he wore a hat when addressing the judge.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait. No, no,” he told the judge. “If I get an invitation [for] next week, I’m going to treat it like an invitation to a Tupperware party.”
“I won’t be here,” he declared.
In October 2010 — with his trial date approaching in February 2011 — Cox began “amassing multiple caches of assault rifles and prohibited explosive devices,” including the grenades and machine guns, according to the charges.
Just prior to his Feb. 14 trial date, Cox informed authorities he would not show up for trial. When he did not appear, a bench warrant was issued.
The FBI had infiltrated the militia group at least by Feb. 12 and “lawfully recorded” conversations that occurred as the probe moved forward, according to the charges.
Cox, according to the complaint, discussed a “241” program, which was shorthand for “two for one.”
The plan “called for his militia to respond to attempts to arrest or kill him by responding against state court or law enforcement targets with twice the force and consequences as happened to him or his family,” according to the state complaint.
Cox ventured that his arrest would constitute a “kidnapping” that, under the “241”plan, called for two state targets to be arrested, meaning “kidnapped,” according to the complaint.
“If he was killed, two state targets would be killed,” according to the complaint. “If his house was taken, two state target houses would be burned.”
And Cox talked about drilling a state judge “in his forehead,” according to the complaint.
A Twitter account referenced in the state charging document includes this Jan. 26 post:
“The DA made a motion to bar me from talking about the constitution in court! LOL He’ll be work’n as Chip N’ Dale dancer if he keeps this up.”
In December 2010, according to the state complaint, Cox told a state judicial officer that “we know where all the Troopers live, we have you outmanned and outgunned and could probably have you all dead in one night.”
At a Cox-related hearing in December, Cox advised a a state judge that “you’re now being treated as a criminal engaged in criminal activity and you’re being served in that manner.”
Also present at the hearing was person described only as “Ken.” “Ken” declared himself a militia member speaking on behalf of Cox, saying he was Cox’s representative and “counsel before God,” according to the state complaint.
The complaint also alleged that Cox or “others” acting “on his behalf — in the days leading up to the trial date — filed “multiple pleadings” that made no sense. The pleadings demanded the charges against Cox be dismissed and made “other claims,” according to the state complaint.
Prosecutors did not describe the nature of the claims. “Sovereigns” have been known to threaten judges and members of law enforcement with criminal and civil prosecution and file claims for alleged damages. In some cases, “sovereigns” have placed liens for astronomical sums against public servants.
Meanwhile, the complaint alleges that surveillance was being conducted on potential targets of the militia and that Cox was able to pinpoint on a map the residences of state troopers and judges.
One state trooper reported being photographed at a gas station, possibly by Michael Anderson, one of the defendants in the state case.
On Feb. 14, the date Cox was supposed to be in court for his trial, he met with the Vernons at their home, according to the state complaint.
When the discussion turned to what would happen if authorities arrived to arrest Cox, Lonnie Vernon allegedly said, “I’ll take all the sons of bitches I can with me. They’ll die a miserable death too.”
Later in February, Cox said that women and children could become casualties of the “241” plan, according to the complaint.
One militia member told Cox that he was not “into killing women and children.” Cox, according to the complaint, responded by saying that he “would not target a woman or child, but if their kids get killed in the process, so be it.”
Cox went on to say that, to make a point, “I’m not against sending somebody’s head in a box.”
Later, Cox declared it his duty to oppose “the tyrant judge . . . who does not follow the constitution.”
On Feb. 26, according to the complaint, Cox discussed the publication of “wanted dead or alive posters” that would include the faces of police officers, an assistant district attorney, a court clerk and a state judge.
Lonnie Vernon allegedly claimed there is going to be a “bunch of dead mother-fuckers before all this is over,” according to the complaint.
And Karen Vernon said the Vernon home would go “up in smoke” before law enforcement could take the couple’s property.
Cox is the head of the “Alaska Peacemaker’s Militia,” according to the state complaint.
After he determined the offered price for six hand grenades was reasonable, he speculated about leaving his hiding place in the home of Coleman Barney after the militia had acquired more weapons, including a handgun with a silencer, according to the complaint.
Cox talked going to Montana to assure the safety of his family, and returning to Alaska to engage in “guerilla warfare,” according to the complaint.