Nine Members of a Militia Group Charged with Seditious Conspiracy and Related Charges
WASHINGTON --- Six Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade and FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena announced today.
The five count indictment, which was unsealed today, charges that between August 2008 and the present, the defendants, David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Mich.; and his other son, David Brian Stone, Jr., 19, of Adrian, Mich.; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich.; Michael Meeks, 40 of Manchester, Mich.; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio, acting as a Lenawee County, Mich., militia group called the Hutaree, conspired to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government. According to the indictment, Hutaree members view local, state, and federal law enforcement as the “brotherhood”, their enemy, and have been preparing to engage them in armed conflict.
The indictment also alleges that the Hutaree planned to kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement and then attack the law enforcement officers who would gather in Michigan for the funeral. According to the plan, the Hutaree would attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with improvised explosive devices with explosively formed projectiles, which, according to the indictment, constitute weapons of mass destruction. Subsequently, and in furtherance of this plan, David Brian Stone, the Hutaree’s leader, obtained information about such devices over the Internet and e-mailed diagrams of such devices to a person he believed capable of manufacturing the devices. He then had his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, and others gather materials necessary for the manufacturing of such devices.
According to the indictment, in June 2009, David Brian Stone and his other son, David Brian Stone Jr., taught other Hutaree members how to make and use explosive devices intending or knowing that the information would be used to further a crime of violence. In addition, the grand jury charged all nine defendants with carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence on at least one occasion.
“The indictment unsealed today outlines an insidious plan by anti-government extremists to murder a law enforcement officer in order to lure police from across the nation to the funeral where they would be attacked with explosive devices. Thankfully, this alleged plot has been thwarted and a severe blow has been dealt to an dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
U.S. Attorney McQuade said, “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.”
Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge, said, “This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society. 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 FBI would like to thank our federal, state and local law enforcement partners who are member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for their assistance in this case.”
Eight of the nine defendants are in custody and seven of them made their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer in the Eastern District of Michigan this morning. Joshua Stone is currently a fugitive. Any person with information as to the whereabouts of this individual should contact the FBI at (313) 965-2323.
The charge of seditious conspiracy carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison; teaching the use of explosives materials carriers a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and the Michigan State Police.