Former Fairbanks-based militia-leader and convicted federal felon Schaeffer Cox saw his prison sentence reduced from 27 years to 188 months — roughly 15 and a half years — on Tuesday at the conclusion of a resentencing hearing held in a federal court in Tacoma, Washington.
The new sentence includes the eight years that Cox already has served. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki, a key factor in Judge Robert J. Bryan’s decision to reduce the sentence was the 2017 reversal of Cox’s conviction for soliciting murder — which also was the impetus for the resentencing hearing.
Cox was a public speaker and organizer in Fairbanks who ran for the Legislature in 2008. He later organized several groups, including a small armed force called the Alaska Peacemakers Militia; a firearms rights group called the Second Amendment Task Force that held large rallies in Fairbanks; and the Alaska Assembly Post, a court convened by Cox in the back of the Fairbanks Denny’s restaurant.
Cox was arrested in 2011, along with a group of his supporters, on charges that they had made plans to kill federal employees, including U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees. An Anchorage jury convicted Cox of multiple crimes, including soliciting and conspiring to commit murder and owning various illegal weapons.
The resentencing hearing, which took place Monday and Tuesday, addressed the eight criminal counts on which Cox was convicted. This includes seven counts relating to the possession of illegal weapons and one count of conspiracy to murder federal officials.
A Tuesday court filing states that the judge decided to change Cox's sentence to the following: 60 months for one count of conspiracy to possess unregistered silencers and destructive devices, 120 months on six illegal weapons convictions and 188 months for conspiracy to kill federal officials. All prison time will be served concurrently, which means that Cox's total prison term will be no longer than 188 months.
Skrocki said the government’s position was that Cox should be serving the full prison time imposed originally by the court in 2011 “primarily because he’s shown no remorse or accountability.”
Skrocki noted that key to the judge’s decision was a a 2017 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturning Cox’s conviction for soliciting murder.
“He took the reversal of that count heavily into his decision,” Skrocki said.
Cox will not have an option for parole, because there is no parole for federally tried criminals. However, he may not be housed at the maximum-security facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, for the rest of his prison time. According to the filing, the court recommended that Cox be incarcerated at a medium-security federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. Skrocki said the final decision on where Cox is incarcerated lies with the Bureau of Prisons.
Cox’s new sentence also includes five years of supervised release.
A number of Cox supporters attended the hearing. Skrocki said “more than two dozen” people were at the hearing.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.