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Schaeffer Cox sentencing postponed in militia case

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Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012 12:12 am | Updated: 11:55 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The new attorney for convicted Fairbanks militia leader Schaeffer Cox has been given more time by a federal judge to review a 60-page draft pre-sentence report from prosecutors and more than 2,500 pages of trial transcripts.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan rescheduled the sentencing to Jan. 7. Cox was scheduled to be sentenced in Anchorage on Nov. 19 for his conviction on nine federal charges, including conspiracy to commit murder and owning illegal weapons. The jury in the six-week trial acquitted him on two weapons charges.

Cox fired his trial attorney, Nelson Traverso, about a month after the conviction. Traverso said in a later court filing that Cox “on numerous occasions” indicated he was dissatisfied with Traverso’s approach and arguments.

Cox’s new attorney, Peter Camiel, of Seattle, said in a filing requesting the delay that “the level of preparation must be sufficient to be able to address the many factual and legal issues that will arise at sentencing.”

Camiel also noted that sentencing guideline calculations from the U.S. Probation Office indicate an advisory sentence of life in prison for Cox. That, however, is simply a calculation based on what the law allows for the convictions and is not a recommendation. The Probation Office, prosecutors and Camiel will each file a pre-sentence recommendation with the court shortly before the sentencing date.

“We don’t know yet what the government is going to recommend,” Camiel said Friday in an interview from his Seattle office.

Cox is being held at a federal detention center in Seattle while awaiting sentencing.

Two other men who were part of a conspiracy with Cox were also convicted this summer. Coleman Barney, of North Pole, and Lonnie Vernon, of Salcha, were convicted of conspiring to kill federal law enforcement officials and with possession of illegal weapons.

Barney was sentenced in September to five years in federal prison, though prosecutors had sought a 10-year term. Vernon is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 19.

The men, along with two others, were arrested in the Fairbanks area in March 2011 for allegedly conspiring to kill government officials. The group had stockpiled weapons and conducted surveillance on the homes of two troopers, according to Alaska State Troopers.

They were initially arrested on state charges, but those cases were dropped after a judge ruled that government tape recordings of the accused could not be used because they were made without a warrant. The federal government then filed charges against the men.

Contact managing editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.

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