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Judge unseals document justifying Anderson's detention in Fairbanks militia case

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Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 3:45 pm | Updated: 1:31 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - An associate of Fairbanks militia-leader Schaeffer Cox will appear in court for the first time today since the FBI took him into custody Tuesday afternoon on a material witness warrant.

Michael O. Anderson, 35, does not face any criminal charges, but prosecutors say he is an important witness in the investigation into Cox and needed to be detained because he was allegedly avoiding a subpoena.

Anderson spent more than six months in jail this year after he was arrested with Cox and three others and accused in state court of planning to kill Alaska State Troopers and court officials.

The state case was dismissed in October after a judge ruled that secret recordings made by two FBI informants without a search warrant were not permissible in court under the Alaska Constitution.

Anderson was released, but the other four remained in jail on either federal weapons charges or, in the case of defendants Lonnie and Karen Vernon, charges related to an alleged plot to kill federal officials.

The FBI took Anderson into custody again Tuesday at the home of his friend Joshua Bennett, where he had been living with his wife for the last few weeks. Bennett said Anderson was taken away by between 20 and 30 armed men wearing bullet-proof vests who would not show him a warrant.

On Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge unsealed the warrant and an FBI affidavit in support of the warrant. The affidavit, by Special Agent Richard Sutherland, adds new details to previous criminal complaints that accused Anderson of being a “computer guru” who looked up personal information on government workers for Cox.

When Anderson’s home was searched after his March 10 arrest, investigators found a notebook with a page that said “Federal Hit List” which included the name of the Deputy United States Marshall stationed in Alaska, Sutherland said. Elsewhere, the notebook contained the names of three Fairbanks TSA employees who apparently would not let Cox pass a security checkpoint wearing body armor and the words “I need the names of federal marshals” along with a note suggesting he consult the paperwork of Karen and Lonnie Vernon. A separate document had research into finding the address of workers from the Alaska Office of Children’s Services who clashed with Cox over the custody of his children in 2010.

After Anderson was arrested in March, he was interviewed about a list of home addresses for law enforcement officers, Sutherland said. Anderson said he spent a day on the computer working on the list for Cox, but later decided the list could be used for violence and that he didn’t “want to go that route,” according to the affidavit.

Since Anderson’s October release, Sutherland said Anderson has not made himself available to be served a grand jury subpoena, boarding up his home on the Elliott highway, not answering his phone and telling his lawyer not to accept the subpoena.

Reached on the phone in his home in Florida, Anderson’s father, Mike Anderson, said he’s previously tried to keep a low profile in the case, but agreed to speak on the record because he believes matters have gotten “out of hand” with his son’s detention Tuesday.

Far from hiding, he said Anderson was in communication with authorities and knew he was wanted at a grand jury in Anchorage.

After Anderson’s release in October, his father said the younger Anderson was in contact with authorities about the grand jury and planned to cooperate because he does not have any information to hide.

“They know exactly where he was,” he said. “They’ve been monitoring our phone calls.”

Anderson did not return to his home on the Elliott highway after he was released because he could not afford to heat it, his father said. A mining engineer, the younger Anderson was in financial ruin after losing a new job he got right before he went to jail, said his father, who has been helping support Anderson’s wife and two young children since Anderson’s arrest this spring.

In addition to losing his job, Anderson’s father said his son lost his ability to fly commercially. While he was in jail, Anderson received a registered letter from the TSA stating he was on a no-fly list because he was on a list of terrorists, his father said.

In general, Anderson said his son was a pacifist, and would have had no part in any plans to kill anyone. The now-defunct criminal case against his him, he said, was based on “pompous” statements Cox made to the FBI’s informant.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.

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