Updated 11 p.m.
FAIRBANKS - Schaeffer Cox and a Peacemakers Militia associate allegedly stored a cache of weapons in the Fairbanks Ice Park parking lot and bought inert grenades they thought were live, according to two federal indictments made available Friday.
The two new documents, 18 pages total, provide more information reportedly gathered during a federal investigation of Cox and four Fairbanks-area members of his militia.
All five have been accused in state court a of conspiring to kill several Fairbanks-area public employees: two Alaska State Troopers, an assistant district attorney, a state judge and the court administrator. The group allegedly planned to resist any effort to serve a misdemeanor arrest warrant on Cox in a plan they called “241” (two for one).
In addition, separate and new federal indictments accuse Karen Vernon and her husband, Lonnie, both of Salcha, of threatening to kill a federal judge, a member of the judge’s family and an IRS agent. The Vernons are in the midst of a two-year court battle with the IRS over unpaid taxes and were on the verge of losing their Salcha home to pay debts. The targeted judge, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline, was presiding in their case.
A second federal indictment charges Cox, Lonnie Vernon and Coleman Barney of the North Pole area with federal weapons offenses, including possession of an illegal Sten machine gun and silencers without a valid license.
The indictment on the weapons charge alludes to multiple “weapons caches.” At one time, weapons were stored at Barney’s North Pole area property. They moved them to a white trailer in the parking lot of the Ice Park, on Phillips Field Road, on March 10, according to the document.
Also on March 10, all five individuals were arrested in a raid involving the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Alaska State Troopers and Fairbanks police.
Cox and Barney allegedly had several meetings with a weapons dealer and wanted to buy 25 grenades at $70 each, according to the indictment. They were later told only eight grenades were available and unknowingly bought inert grenades, according to the document. The document does not say whether the arms dealer knew the weapons were inert when they were sold.
The state charging document says militia members had other weapons, including both a .30-caliber and .50-caliber tripod-mounted machine gun, at least one grenade launcher and “multiple dozens of other high-powered assault rifles and pistols.”
At a news conference in Anchorage on Thursday, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler would not comment on whether more federal indictments are pending or whether there are any other alleged coconspirators. To prove a conspiracy, the government must show that conspirators agreed to break the law and then took overt actions to achieve the goal, she said.
Cox in court
Cox appeared briefly in the Rabinowitz Courthouse by video conference from Fairbanks Correctional Facility on Friday. His appearance concerned a misdemeanor weapons charge stemming from a March 2010 incident in which Cox allegedly failed to inform a Fairbanks police officer that he, Cox, was carrying a concealed firearm.
In initial hearings in that case, Cox argued he is “sovereign citizen” who is not under jurisdiction of the district court. He did not attend a Feb. 14 trial and has been charged with an additional misdemeanor of failing to appear.
Cox did not speak at the Friday hearing.
His attorney, Robert John, entered a not guilty plea for Cox on the new charge.
Magistrate Alicemary Rasley set an April 4 trial date before Judge Michael McConahy.
McConahy is the district judge Cox and his associates allegedly planned to kill as part of the “241” plot, and John questioned the appropriateness of McConahy presiding over the trial.
Rasley said John could file a motion challenging the choice of McConahy. McConahy does not plan on recusing himself, she said.
Bail for this case is set at $7,500 in this case. It is set at $2 million for Cox and his four co-defendants in the conspiracy-to-commit murder case. Bail has not yet been set in the federal cases.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.
As the charges currently stand, all five defendants face one charge of conspiracy to commit murder and one charge of interference with a government function. A state grand jury as not returned any indictments on the state charges.
Other individual charges include:
• Salcha residents Lonnie Vernon, 55, and his wife, Karen Vernon, were indicted on federal charges of threatening to kill U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, a member of his family and an IRS agent. The Vernons are the only ones accused of threatening to kill federal employees.
The Vernons allegedly harbored Cox while he was a fugitive after he did not attend a Feb. 14 trial on a misdemeanor weapons charge.
Vernon faces additional federal weapons charges.
• Coleman Barney faces federal weapons charges. Barney also allegedly harbored Cox in his North Pole-area home.
• Cox faces federal weapons charges.
• Michael Anderson is facing no federal charges.
Along with the others he faces the two most serious state charges. Prosecutors filed a different complaint against Anderson than the one used for the other four. The document describes him as the surveillance man in charge of providing information about targets.