Georgia men accused in attack plot get 5 years in prison

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2012 7:39 PM
Georgia men accused in attack plot get 5 years in prison

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Two Georgia men accused of being part of a domestic militia were sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison for conspiring to obtain equipment and explosives for attacks on government buildings and federal employees.

Frederick Thomas, a 73-year-old man described by federal authorities as the group's leader, and Dan Roberts, 68, both pleaded guilty in April in federal court to conspiracy charges in the case.

"These defendants didn't just talk about killing government officials and law enforcement officers, they purchased equipment, including a silencer and what they thought were explosive devices, to carry out their plans," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Yates said in a statement.

Thomas had made a list of government employees, politicians and others who he said should be "taken out" to "make the country right again," prosecutors said in a statement after the sentencing.

According to prosecutors, Thomas said during a meeting with other members of the group: "When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die."

Thomas and Roberts met with a federal undercover agent in June 2011 to discuss the purchase of silencers and explosives they planned to use in their attacks, prosecutors said.

Months later, they gave the undercover agent money and a gun in exchange for a silencer for an M4 assault rifle and conversion parts to make the rifle fully automatic, as well as what they believed were C-4 plastic explosives, prosecutors said.

Thomas' attorney, Jeffrey Ertel, said in court documents that his client and Roberts were not planning attacks but were instead preparing to protect themselves "in the event of a catastrophic event which included the federal government turning its weapons on the people of the United States."

Both men received the maximum prison sentence allowed under their plea agreements, and each must serve three years of supervised release after his prison term ends.

Two other alleged members of the militia - Samuel Crump and Ray Adams, both in their 60s - have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring and attempting to produce the biological toxin ricin, which can be fatal if ingested or inhaled. They could receive life sentences if convicted.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)