FBI Arrests West Virginia militia members
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Return FBI Arrests West Virginia militia members on charges they plotted to place explosives near the FBI facility in Clarksburg, which the bureau recently opened as its fingerprint records center.
The Investigation: Step-by-Step Details of Alleged Plot
The following are by the Associated Press
Brought to you from
The Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram newspapers
Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights Reserved.
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WHEELING (AP)_ The second man allegedly tapped by Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker for his bomb- making expertise formally pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to manufacture explosives.
Jack A. Phillips signed a letter agreeing to plead guilty last month. The plea was accepted Thursday by U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr., who will sentence him in 30 to 60 days, officials said.
"He wants to get this behind him as soon as he can," said Jerald Jones, Phillips' lawyer. "He feels he made a mistake in getting involved in this. He wants to take his punishment and get this behind him."
Phillips, 58, of Fairmont, and six others with militia ties were arrested in October on charges that included an alleged plot to destroy the FBI's $200 million fingerprint complex in Clarksburg.
Phillips, a former chemical engineer and West Virginia University graduate, was one of two men Looker wanted to make explosives for sale and for use in militia operations, prosecutors said.
The other, Edward F. Moore, of Lavalette, Wayne County, pleaded guilty May 29 to making an ammonium nitrate bomb during a demonstration at a militia training exercise in Lewis County.
Phillips faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a penalty of $250,000. But the sentence under federal guidelines will likely fall in the range of six months to a year in prison, Jones said.
Phillips already served about six months in jail before he was released on home confinement in Fairmont, Jones said.
FBI Special Agent Leslie Hoppey testified Thursday that Looker introduced Phillips to an FBI informant who infiltrated the militia during a training session at the 600-acre farm in May 1996.
Phillips boasted that he had the capacity to manufacture up to 50 pounds of plastic explosives a week if the informant provided items he requested to begin the process, Hoppey testified.
He also boasted that he had the capability of removing chemical "markers" so the explosives could not be traced, she said.
Jones said Phillips was not a member of the militia. He said his client went twice to the farm where militia members trained, but only to paint a house and help build a bridge over a creek.
Phillips knew nothing of Looker's effort to obtain copies of FBI center blueprints and sell them to a terrorist group.
The seven men were taken into custody the same day Looker sold the blueprint copies obtained by a Clarksburg firefighter to a broker who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
The arrests followed a 16- month undercover investigation that began two months after the Oklahoma City bombing when militia members allegedly discussed federal targets.
Charges include bringing explosives across state lines, providing material resources to a terrorist organization and conspiracy to manufacture explosives.
U.S. Attorney William Wilmoth said he was particularly pleased to see Phillips plead guilty because he has attacked the government's tactics and its informant, Okey Marshall Richards Jr.
Richards made more than 400 tape recordings of conversations that led to the arrests.
Defense lawyers have attacked Richards' credibility
because he defaulted on a lawsuit over a failed business venture, owed more than $30,000 in child support and lied about being a Navy SEAL.
Looker and the four remaining defendants from Ohio and Pennsylvania are scheduled to stand trial next month.
Updated July 9, 1997
Magistrate says Looker controlled militia
(AP)_It was Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker, not a government informant, who controlled activities that led to arrests in an alleged plot to blow up the FBI center in Clarksburg, a magistrate said.
Magistrate James E. Seibert recommended against dismissing indictments and suppressing hundreds of audiotapes and other evidence on grounds of "outrageous" government conduct.
Bill Cipriani, Looker's lawyer, said Thursday he planned to file objections to the ruling by Monday. U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. in Wheeling will have the final say in the matter.
Cipriani contended the informant, Okey Marshall Richards Jr., planted the seeds of criminal activity and goaded defendants to action, even offering money to ensure acts were carried out.
Richards made more than 400 tape recordings of Looker and six others that led to charges of plotting to manufacture explosives, bringing explosives across state lines and providing resources for a terrorist attack on the FBI's fingerprint complex in Clarksburg.
Claims of outrageous government conduct are rarely granted, and Seibert said the defense did not prove its case.
"The defendant cannot provide a sufficient factual basis to entitle him to an evidentiary hearing," let alone support his claim, the magistrate wrote in U.S. District Court in Wheeling.
U.S. Attorney William Wilmoth was out of the office and not available for comment, said Fawn Thomas, his spokeswoman in Wheeling.
FBI agents arrested the seven men on Oct. 11 after Looker sold copies of FBI center blueprints obtained by a Clarksburg firefighter to an agent posing as middleman for Middle East terrorists.
The defense offered examples from transcripts of nine dates in which Richards suggested adding fragmentation devices to increase the lethal potential of explosives, moved to expedite efforts to obtain copies of blueprints of the FBI complex, chided Looker for moving slowly on plans, and complained to other defendants about Looker.
Cipriani also provided letters from two men who attended militia training sessions. Both said they never heard any discussions of criminal activities unless the informant was present.
"The only time that any illegal activity was mentioned was when Marshall Richards brought the subject up. In my opinion, Mr. Richards was trying to lead people in the wrong direction," wrote Leonard E. Poff of South Point, Ohio.
Looker also claimed the government sought to destabilize him after his arrest by denying him Prozac for three months, stalking his wife and knocking down the door to his home.
On another issue, Stamp granted a petition by prosecutors to prevent further disclosures from discovery material.
News organizations used the discovery materials in reporting that militia members had discussed killing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Stamp noted that discovery materials are not typically made public and that court rulings have indicated the public has no special right to view those documents.
Prosecutors contended the materials became part of the record inadvertently because of a miscommunication between prosecutors, the magistrate and the clerk.
Updated June 27, 1997
FBI says Militia
plotted murder of Rockefeller
MORGANTOWN (AP)_ The Mountaineer Militia considered killing U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in addition to federal installations, FBI affidavits showed.
Militia members discussed the assassinations as they talked about creating a "Special Operations Group" in the event the government turned against the people, the documents said.
According to the documents, Commanding General Floyd "Ray" Looker said the assassinations would not be murder because the militia was engaged in war against government corruption.
The new allegations were revealed Thursday, the day a defense lawyer said a Fairmont man agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture explosives for Looker.
The assassination plot is contained in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Wheeling in the case of seven men accused in an alleged plot to destroy the $200 FBI center in Clarksburg. The other targets have not been identified.
Larry Martz, an Ohio militiaman not charged in the plot, indicated it might even be necessary to target the families of Rockefeller and Greenspan, the documents said.
"You must cut off their heads," Martz said in reference to the need to attack top government leaders. He is in jail in Ohio for assaulting a state trooper and carrying a concealed weapon.
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., had no comment on the allegations, said spokesman Jim Whitney. Greenspan also had no comment, said Joseph R. Coyne, assistant to the Federal Reserve Board.
In another development, Jack A. Phillips became the second of the seven defendants to agree to plead guilty.
Defense lawyer Jerald Jones said the guilty plea carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The tentative agreement must be signed by prosecutors, then approved by U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. in Wheeling, Jones said.
Phillips, 57, was charged with conspiracy because he never actually made a bomb but had arranged to acquire laboratory equipment through an FBI informant, Jones said.
Jones said he hoped Phillips' sentence would be reduced by his agreement to plead guilty.
"The motivating factor was the benefit that you get in the sentencing guidelines by acceptance of responsibility," he said. "The other thing is he gets this behind him, instead of dragging it out all summer."
Phillips, who has a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University, attended a militia training session in Lewis County but never joined the group, officials said.
He is free on bond.
U.S. Attorney William Wilmoth declined comment on any potential plea bargain until the plea is put before a federal judge, spokeswoman Fawn Thomas said Thursday from Wheeling.
Another defendant, Edward F. Moore, pleaded guilty May 29 to manufacturing an ammonium nitrate bomb during a militia training session. Moore is awaiting sentencing.
Phillips, Looker, Moore and the others were charged in a plot to obtain explosives and aid a terrorist attack on the FBI fingerprint complex.
They were arrested Oct. 11 after Looker tried to sell photograph copies of blueprints of the FBI complex allegedly obtained by Clarksburg Fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers.
Charges include bringing explosives across state lines, providing material resources to a terrorist organization and conspiracy to manufacture explosives.
The arrests followed a 16-month undercover investigation that was started two months after the Oklahoma City bombing when militia members allegedly discussed federal targets.
At the center of the investigation was Looker's trusted intelligence officer, Okey Marshall Richards Jr., who made more than 400 tape recordings of conversations for the FBI.
Updated June 13, 1997
Militia group defendant
enters plea agreement
WHEELING (AP)_ A West Virginia militia group member who boasted he was building a bomb that could engulf an area as big as two football fields pleaded guilty Thursday to one of two federal charges.
Edward F. Moore of Lavalette, Wayne County, is the first of seven defendants to enter a guilty plea in a case described by prosecutors as a plot to obtain explosives and aid an attack on the FBI fingerprint complex in Clarksburg.
At least one other defendant was discussing a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, sources said.
Moore, 52, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to possession of a destructive device, an ammonium nitrate bomb he concocted during a militia training session.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped the charge of conspiracy to manufacture explosives. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing was not immediately set.
U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. asked if Moore, a member of the high-IQ group Mensa, understood the ramifications of his guilty plea.
"Mr. Moore probably has the highest IQ of any client I have ever represented," defense lawyer John Cooper replied.
Moore's plea occurred the same day that FBI Director Louis Freeh was in Clarksburg for the dedication of the main office building at the Criminal Justice Information Services Division.
Moore was one of two men allegedly tapped by Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker to manufacture explosives for sale and for use in militia operations, officials said.
The other, Jack A. Phillips of Fairmont, remains in jail, along with Looker, while awaiting trial in August.
Moore told Looker that he was working on a cheap fuel-air device that could be produced for $100 and would devastate an area the size of two football fields, according to court documents.
Also, he said he was developing a device similar to a rocket-propelled grenade that, when fired from a shotgun, was capable of delivering an explosive charge 100 yards away, documents said.
His guilty plea applied to a militia meeting on March 24, 1996, when Moore demonstrated how to make a bomb from ammonium nitrate and nitromethane racing fuel at a militia training session in Lewis County.
A Bridgeport police officer, working undercover for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, witnessed the explosion, according to testimony from FBI Special Agent J.C. Raffety.
Cooper said his client had nothing to do with an indictment against two other defendants who are accused of providing assistance to terrorists.
"My client has absolutely nothing to do with that indictment," Cooper said.
In all, seven men with militia ties in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania face charges including bringing explosives across state lines, providing material resources to a terrorist organization and conspiracy to manufacture explosives.
They were arrested last Oct. 11 after Looker tried to sell for $50,000 photograph copies of blueprints of the FBI complex obtained by Clarksburg Fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers.
The arrests that shocked Clarksburg followed a 16-month undercover investigation aided by an informant, Okey Marshall Richards Jr., who was Looker's trusted intelligence officer.
The investigation was launched two months after the Oklahoma City bombing when militia members allegedly discussed three federal targets, including the FBI complex in Clarksburg. The other targets have not been identified.
Although Moore initially participated in militia activities, he apparently had second thoughts after the ATF conducted a surprise inspection on his property in Wayne County, according to documents.
On Aug. 25, the day President Clinton visited Huntington, Moore ordered the informant to take off his shirt during a meeting at his home to make sure he
was not recording the meeting, documents said. He told the informant that he wanted to continue his militia activities, but he said he was concerned about his wife's fears.
Cooper noted that Moore later contacted federal authorities and offered to testify against Looker and the informant.
Moore remains free on bond under home confinement pending sentencing.
Updated May 30, 1997
Looker's lawyer claims
Richards orchestrated plot
WHEELING (AP)_ The informant at the center of an investigation into an alleged plot to blow up the FBI fingerprint center was more than a witness to criminal activity, he was responsible for orchestrating it, a defense lawyer said Thursday.
Bill Cipriani, lawyer for Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker, wants U.S. Magistrate James E. Seibert to dismiss all charges on grounds of "outrageous" government conduct.
He cited nine times the informant allegedly planted ideas, goaded defendants to action or offered money to carry out the acts.
Informant Okey Marshall Richards Jr. "has put himself in the organization. He has obtained a rank. He has won the trust. And now he's running the organization," Cipriani said.
Seibert did not rule immediately on Cipriani's request for a separate hearing targeting government conduct in the investigation that led to the Oct. 11 arrests of seven men with militia ties.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Godwin said the FBI controlled the investigation but only to the extent of keeping the informant in line and keeping explosives out of the hands of the militia.
"I think the FBI has done an excellent job of protecting the public from dangerous explosives," he said. "These are not firecrackers."
Looker and the others from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania face charges including conspiracy to manufacture explosives, bringing explosives across state lines and providing support for a terrorist attack.
FBI agents arrested the suspects after Looker attempted to sell copies of blueprints of the FBI center in Clarksburg to an agent posing as the middleman for a fictitious Middle East terrorist group.
Cipriani, Looker's third lawyer, is now directing the defense. Looker, of Stonewood, Harrison County, was quiet during the hearing, unlike previous times in which he verbally sparred with the magistrate.
Cipriani said Thursday there was no evidence of criminal activity until Richards approached the FBI after the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 and later became a paid informant for the government.
Richards, a Clarksburg native, joined the militia, became Looker's trusted security chief and made hundreds of tape recordings of conversations with the defendants.
Cipriani contends transcripts of the tapes indicate Richards planted ideas, encouraged defendants to act and to move faster, and even provided money for the transactions because the militia had none.
It was Richards who suggested on the tapes that the militia make explosives into fragmentation weapons designed to be more effective antipersonnel devices, Cipriani said. Richards later suggested adding timing devices to explosives, he said.
Cipriani also noted a conversation in which Richards complained about the pace of operations to Clarksburg Fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers, a militia commander who obtained the blueprints. Also, Richards begged Looker to make contact with other militia leaders, Cipriani said.
"What better evidence can I offer of outrageous conduct?" Cipriani said.
Cipriani said courts considering the issue of outrageous conduct have indicated it is worse when the government preys on someone with no money. Looker was living on a $90-a-month Army pension, did not have a job and was in debt, the lawyer said.
Godwin told the judge there is not even enough evidence to support a judge instructing jurors on the definition of entrapment, much less dismiss the charges. And, he said, "Entrapment is an issue for the jury to decide."
Godwin also suggested it is unfair that defense lawyers have vilified the informant, whose credibility has been attacked because he defaulted on a lawsuit, owes back child support and lied about being a Navy SEAL.
"He has provided a valuable service to the community. Thank
goodness he was loyal to the government and not the antigovernment, paramilitary forces of Ray Looker," the prosecutor said.
Seibert also did not immediately rule on separate motions by Cipriani to dismiss the tape recordings made by the informant or to dismiss one of four indictments against Rogers and Looker on First Amendment grounds.
On another issue, Seibert ruled as he had in the case of two defendants from Ohio that the government must produce the informant for a face-to-face meeting with defense lawyers. The government said it would appeal, the same as it did in the original case.
Updated May 9, 1997
Richards ordered to appear
in court for questioning
(AP)_Defense lawyers won the first round of their battle to force the government to produce an infor mant whose tape recordings led to the arrests of seven men with mili tia ties.
Whether Okey Marshall Rich ards Jr. will talk when he meets defense lawyers face-to-face is another matter.
"We are pleased with the magis trate judge's decision permitting us the opportunity to confront our accuser," John Pizzuti, lawyer for James Johnson of Maple Heights, Ohio, said Monday.
Richards, the key figure in the case, told prosecutors that he did not want to talk to lawyers for any of the men accused in an alleged plot to destroy the FBI fingerprint complex in Clarksburg.
Richards, a Clarksburg native, is under no obligation to talk to defense lawyers. But if he refuses to talk to lawyers for Johnson and another Ohio man, he must tell them so in person, Magistrate James E. Seibert ruled.
"Cooperating witness Okey Mar shall Richards Jr. is the single most important witness in this case. Counsel for the defendants need to see him face-to-face," Seibert wrote in a ruling Friday.
Prosecutors will appeal the rec ommendation in U.S. District Court in Wheeling, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Bill Wilmoth.
Richards made more than 400 tapes of conversations with the seven defendants that led to charges of an alleged plot to destroy the FBI's fingerprint com plex in Clarksburg.
Richards has been relocated by the government to an out-of-state location for his protection.
Defense lawyers contend the government's case was tainted because the informant was moti vated by money.
They also have attacked his credibility because he defaulted in a lawsuit over a failed business ven ture, owes more than $33,000 in child support and lied when he boasted about being a Navy SEAL.
One defense lawyer said he believes Richards has the gift of gab and may not be able to resist the urge to talk when he meets with lawyers at an undisclosed location.
"People who are talkative have problems controlling it. I don't care how schooled he is by the govern ment. That doesn't mean he won't be tempted to talk," said Vincent Murovich, lawyer for Terrell Coon of Waynesburg, Pa.
Although the decision affects only the cases against Johnson and Imam Lewis of Cleveland, lawyers for some other defendants will likely follow suit in requesting meetings. Seibert previously ruled Murovich could talk to Richards by phone.
Looker and the others were arrested last Oct. 11 after Looker allegedly tried to sell for $50,000 photographed copies of FBI center blueprints obtained by Clarksburg Fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers.
Looker and Rogers are the first to be charged under a 1994 law that makes it a crime to provide material support for a terrorist organization.
Two others, Edward F. Moore of Lavalette and Jack A. Phillips of Fairmont, face charges along with Looker of conspiracy to man ufacture bombs for sale and for use in militia operations.
Johnson, Coon and Lewis face charges of illegally bringing explo sives across state lines.
In other rulings, Seibert dis missed three counts against John son and two counts against Lewis. He also denied their motions to be tried separately from Looker, who is also named in their indictment.
Seibert said there was no need for a separate trial now that Looker is represented by a lawyer. Earlier, Looker had planned to represent himself when the case goes to trial in August.
Updated May 1 1997
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