Attorneys for seven members of a Michigan-based militia charged with plotting to overthrow the government asked a judge to declare a mistrial Wednesday, claiming they should have been told earlier about a previous case handled by the FBI agent who infiltrated the group.
The defense attorneys found out only this week that agent Steve Haug was the FBI handler for a New Jersey man who was paid to collect information on white supremacists and hate groups, starting in 2003. The informant, Hal Turner, was a right-wing radio host and blogger who made threats against critics and public officials while on the FBI payroll.
Under federal law, the government is required to turn over material that could aid a defendant or impeach the credibility of a witness. William Swor, attorney for Hutaree militia leader David Stone, said prosecutors failed to meet their obligation.
Hateful, anti-government speech is a key part of the case against Stone and six other members of the militia, who are charged with conspiring to commit rebellion against the government, first by killing a police officer and then attacking the funeral. There was no slaying or attack.
Swor said the defense deserved to know sooner about Haug's past work with a controversial informant, even if the information would never have been used on cross-examination.
"We were cut off from a whole line of investigation," Swor told U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts.
Prosecutors denied any violation had occurred and said the information was not relevant. Roberts didn't immediately rule on the request for a mistrial.
Turner of North Bergen, N.J., had no role in the Michigan militia investigation.
He was an FBI informant for four years until 2007. In 2010, he was convicted of making threats against three federal judges in Illinois in retaliation for a decision supporting gun control. He is serving a 33-month prison sentence
The government was expected to rest its case Wednesday, but arguments about Haug's previous work lasted two hours. Prosecutors will try to finish Thursday. The trial started Feb. 13 and is expected to stretch into early April.
The final evidence of the day was video of a federal agent firing machine guns at a gun range. The weapons were seized when militia members were rounded up in March 2010.
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