Not only was militia leader Schaeffer Cox not plotting to overthrow the federal government, he reported on others who tried to instigate a conflict, according to a document filed Monday by Cox’s attorney.
Cox’s attorney, Nelson Traverso, is asking the U.S. District Court in Anchorage to dismiss charges against Cox for allegedly having illegal weapons.
Monday’s filing is the most detailed account from the defense’s perspective of the events leading up to the arrest of Cox and four others on March 10. The group was previously accused in state court of making a plan to kill Alaska State Troopers and court officials. But these charges were dropped by the Alaska attorney general’s office last month because of illegally obtained evidence.
Traverso argues Cox’s speeches about the downfall of the government did not merit an FBI investigation because Cox explicitly said multiple times that he did not want to bring down the government himself. In speeches and recorded conversations, Cox calls the U.S. government a “wounded bear” and says the militia should not try to make it “die faster,” Traverso said. Traverso said this type of speech should be protected by the First Amendment.
Accompanying the filing is an affidavit signed Monday by Cox that swears to 27 facts related to the case. Among them, Cox asserts that two men, including FBI informant Bill Fulton, tried to get him to make a plan to fight the government in August 2010. Cox said he told them that his militia’s policy is to “defend all (and) aggress none.”
Later, Cox said he went to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Fairbanks and said two men were trying to do “something stupid.”
“I tried to convey to him that these guys wanted to attack the government and that this was inconsistent with our philosophy,” Cox said in the affidavit.
He said he did not give the names of the two men for fear of retribution.
A phone call to the U.S. Attorney’s office to verify whether Cox made this report was not immediately returned Tuesday.
In previous court filings, prosecutors asserted members of Cox’s and co-defendant Coleman Barney devised a plan called “two-for-one” or “241” at a Feb. 12 militia meeting.
At that time, Cox was scheduled to face a state trial on a misdemeanor weapons charge that has since been dismissed. Cox had already decided he was going to boycott his trial because he does not believe in the authority of the government. At the meeting, the group discussed how they would respond to the arrest warrant that was going to be issued for Cox. Prosecutors said Cox came up with a plan to kidnap two law enforcement officers or court officials for every militia member that was arrested and to kill two for every militia member killed in any ensuing struggle. It was at this meeting, prosecutors say, Cox said that “without any further prosecution” it was “well within (his) rights to drill (Superior Court Judge Michael) McConahy in his forehead.”
In his filling Monday, Traverso said Gerald “JR” Olson, another FBI informant, consistently tried to instigate the group into a conflict and played a role in developing “241.” Olson is a convicted felon who received a lighter sentence in a Matanuska Valley case involving a fraudulent septic tanks business in exchange for his help in a six-month investigation into Cox’s militia.
At the Feb. 12 meeting, Traverso said, Cox came up with the “241” concept, but only after Olson suggested the militia set up a guard around Cox’s home to stop police from arresting him. Before Olson suggested the guard, Cox said he planned to respond to the arrest warrant by filing more paperwork, Traverso said.
Later at the meeting, Cox called the prospect of the 241 plan “horrifying” and said “I’m not going to do a Rambo, I’m going to do a Gandhi,” Traverso said.
download Schaeffer Cox affidavit, Nov. 15
download brief from Nelson Traverso re: Schaeffer Cox, Nov. 15
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.