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Salcha couple plan guilty pleas in tax evasion, murder conspiracy case

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Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 1:15 pm | Updated: 10:35 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - A Salcha couple charged with an alleged plot to kill a federal judge over the outcome of a tax case are planning on pleading guilty, according to documents filed in court Thursday.

Lonnie and Karen Vernon, who are associated with militia leader Schaeffer Cox’s “241” murder conspiracy case, indicated in a notice that they intend to change their pleas Monday in U.S. District Court.

According to the charges, the Vernons had allegedly planned to kill an Internal Revenue Service agent and U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, who presided over their tax case. The couple failed to pay taxes for several years, arguing in part that the IRS has no authority to collect taxes because authorization was never properly published in the Federal Register.

The Vernons owed about $180,000 in taxes, interest and penalties.

It’s unclear which of the eight counts the couple intend plead guilty to.

Among the eight counts filed against Lonnie Vernon are charges of conspiracy to murder federal officials, threatening to murder family members of a federal judge, conspiracy to possess an unregistered firearm and destructive device, and possession of an unregistered machine gun. Karen Vernon is charged with similar crimes and will be tried alongside her husband this fall.

Lonnie Vernon was convicted earlier this year in connection with a separate murder conspiracy plot involving Cox. Karen Vernon was not charged in that case.

The move comes after an attempt to move the trial to Washington state.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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