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Documents: Two informants helped FBI in Fairbanks '241' militia bust

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Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:32 am | Updated: 12:04 am, Wed Jan 9, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The FBI used two informants when investigating the alleged “241” murder plot, according to federal court documents unsealed Friday.

One informant was promoted to the “command staff” of Francis “Schaeffer “ Cox’s Peacemakers Militia in February; the other was sought out as a source of weapons in Anchorage, according to the documents.

Both confidential sources were compensated and will be compensated in the future, according to the documents. Both had been working with the FBI for about 10 months, but were not aware that the other source was working for the FBI.

The three new documents — each about 24 pages — are affidavits sworn by an FBI agent in support of search warrants on the property of Cox and co-defendant Coleman Barney. The search warrants were signed March 8.

Cox, Barney and fellow militia members Michael Anderson, Lonnie Vernon and his wife Karen Vernon were arrested March 10 and face more than 20 charges including conspiracy to commit murder. Barney’s wife, Rachel Barney, also has been charged with hindering prosecution for allegedly harboring Cox while he was a fugitive and has been issued a summons.

The sources are denoted CS-1 (Confidential Source One) and CS-2 in the documents.

CS-1 is described as a convicted felon who hoped to have a pending felony fraud charge reduced or dismissed through his cooperation with law enforcement. CS-2 has no criminal record, according to the documents.

Recordings made by CS-1 include a Feb. 12 meeting where Cox reportedly announced plan “241” (two for one) whereby militia members were told to respond to any attempt by law enforcement to execute an arrest warrant on Cox with twice the force — kidnapping two judges, Alaska State Troopers or district attorneys for every militia member arrested and killing two people if a militia member is killed in any potential conflict. Later, CS-1 recorded Cox pointing out the homes of two Alaska State Troopers on a map and gave him a piece of paper with the name of a trooper to add to the target list.

At a March 5 meeting, Cox reportedly made plans to sneak his family out of Alaska in a truck trailer and return to Alaska alone to “wage guerrilla warfare.”

The documents also describe a trip made by Lonnie Vernon and CS-1 to a statewide militia convention in Anchorage, Feb. 4 through 6. Cox canceled his own attendance at the conference because his wife was having a child, but he tasked Vernon and CS-1 with acquiring pineapple grenades and C4 explosive. State and federal prosecutors have not stated that Cox and his associates succeeded in acquiring C4, but it does accuse them of possessing illegal pineapple grenades, automatic weapons and gun silencers.

Neither Cox, Barney or the Vernons have had any firearms registered in their names in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Records database since 2005, according to the documents.

While in Anchorage, the Vernons and CS-1 reportedly met with CS-2 and an individual who identified himself as the “fuse king” in an effort to get silencers and make hand grenades functional.

Also during the trip, Vernon reportedly explained plans to kill federal Judge Ralph Beistline. The Vernons are in the middle of a court battle with the IRS over taxes, and could lose their house to pay more than $160,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest. The Vernons were representing themselves in the case and Beistline is presiding over their case. In recent cases he had expressed frustration with the Vernons for their “nonsensical” argument that the government does not have the authority to tax them.

Cox has his own history of challenging the government’s authority. When facing a misdemeanor charge of not notifying a police officer while carrying a concealed firearm, he also represented himself and once said he would treat a court date like an “invitation to a Tupperware party.” A warrant was issued for his arrest Feb. 14 after he did not appear at a jury trial on the misdemeanor weapons charge on that date.

Cox organized his own “common law” trial at the Fairbanks Denny’s Restaurant.

The common law court acquitted Cox of the weapons charge and a reckless endangerment charge Cox had pleaded guilty to in state court in March, 2010, according to the FBI affidavits.

Also described in the FBI affidavits is more information about weapons caches the militia reportedly had in the Fairbanks area.

One was on property rented out by Cox off Bradway Road in North Pole; another was on Chena Hot Springs Road, according to the document.

Militia members reportedly moved another cache from Barney’s house to the Fairbanks Ice Park the day of their arrests, while taking one of Barney’s children on a trip to the Ice Park.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545

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