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.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Looker trial
set to begin August 5

(AP)__The final obstacle to the trial of Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker was removed when a federal judge rejected motions to dismiss evidence and throw out indictments.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. issued rulings late Wednesday and Thursday that rejected Looker's contention that the government violated his free speech rights and engaged in "outrageous" conduct.

Looker, 56, of Stonewood, is scheduled to stand trial in 12 days in Wheeling on charges of conspiring to obtain explosives.

He and six others were arrested in October on charges that included an alleged plot to provide resources for an attack on the FBI center in Clarksburg. Two have pleaded guilty to explosives charges.

Looker said Thursday night that he was not surprised by the ruling and that he was ready for trial.

"I feel pretty confident," he said in an interview from the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville.

Looker contended the informant at the center of the investigation planted the seeds of criminal activity and that the FBI launched an investigation of the militia before there was evidence of a crime.

Stamp ruled that transcripts used by the defense to attack the informant's conduct did not warrant dismissal of the charges.

"While the government's confidential witness may have acted deceptively and encouraged the defendant to take part in criminal activity, his acts, as evidenced by the transcripts, do not rise to the level of outrageous conduct," the judge wrote.

Stamp also dismissed Looker's argument that more than 400 tapes made by informant Okey Marshall Richards Jr. should be suppressed because the FBI launched an investigation prematurely.

Looker contended the government's investigation began from the moment Richards joined the militia with the FBI's tacit approval following the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.

The government contends there was no active investigation until two months later when Richards attended a militia training session in Lewis County in which members discussed criminal activity.

Stamp said the evidence indicates Looker requested the informant to obtain explosives and told the informant about the militia's weapons and explosives caches across southern West Virginia.

"This court finds that requesting explosives and storing weapons and explosives are not protected free speech or protected activities under the First Amendment," Stamp said.

The judge also dismissed defense arguments that prosecutors illegally used the grand jury process as a fishing expedition when it called Looker's wife and a militia chaplain to testify.

Looker's lawyers, Bill Cipriani and Bill Gallagher, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Other motions are pending, including a defense request for psychiatric records of the informant, but there are no more motions that would derail the trials, officials said.

The seven defendants were arrested Oct. 11 following a 16-month investigation when Looker tried to sell photograph copies of blueprints of the FBI complex obtained by Clarksburg Fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers, prosecutors said.

Edward F. Moore of Lavalette and Jack A. Phillips of Fairmont have pleaded guilty to explosives charges.

The rest plan to fight the charges at four separate trials starting August 5. Looker and Rogers, of Jane Lew, are charged with providing resources to support a terrorist attack on the FBI center.

Three others, Imam Lewis of Cleveland, James M. Johnson of suburban Maple Heights, and Terry Coon of Waynesburg, Pa., face charges of transportation of explosives across state lines.

Updated July 25,, 1997
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Richards' reliability questioned
Looker's lawyers want documents

WHEELING (AP) _ Defense lawyers have attacked the credibility of a government informant for defaulting on a lawsuit, owing more than $30,000 in child support and lying when he boasted about being a Navy SEAL.

Now they want more ammunition.

The lawyer for Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker sought Monday to force the government to disclose the psychiatric history of the informant, Okey Marshall Richards Jr., who made more than 400 tape recordings leading to the arrests of seven men with militia ties.

The motion noted that Richards may have sought treatment for manic-depression, that his Navy commanders thought he was irrational and that he had talked about taking his life.

It was disclosed during a pretrial conference Monday aimed at ironing out details before the Aug. 5 starting date of the first of four trials stemming from an alleged plot to destroy an FBI fingerprints center in Clarksburg. U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. gave prosecutors time to file a response.

"Clearly the jury is entitled to know about every issue concerning a witness' credibility and competency, and evidence of psychiatric illness and treatment is relevant," wrote defense lawyer Bill Cipriani.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Godwin told the judge he was against investigating Richards because he is not charged with a crime. Godwin also questioned the relevancy of reports more than 20 years old.

"We'll oppose it," he said.

The men, from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, face charges of conspiring to manufacture explosives, bringing explosives across state lines and providing resources for an attack on the FBI center.

The motion quoted one of Richards' former wives as saying the informant received treatment for manic-depression, and it noted Richards had allegedly expressed a desire to commit suicide to Looker.

The motion also noted that Richards was given a psychiatric evaluation in the Navy, where records show he made comments indicating "irrationality" to his commanding officer and executive officer.

Richards has been relocated to another state for his protection, authorities said.

Also Monday, Stamp altered the schedule for four trials, all of which were set for August.

Jury selection for two of the trials was to begin Aug. 5, followed by jury selection for the next two trials Aug. 12.

But the judge said he was concerned that jurors awaiting their turn could be tainted by media reports involving earlier trials, so he ordered each jury to be selected prior to each trial.

"I'm just going to have to sit down and figure this thing out as best I can," Stamp said.

The first trial involves Looker's alleged attempts to enlist a former chemical engineer and a member of the high-IQ group Mensa to make explosives for sale and for use in militia operations.

The other defendants in that trial, Edward F. Moore of Lavalette and Jack A. Phillips of Fairmont, both pleaded guilty to explosives charges, but the trial will begin as scheduled on Aug. 5, Stamp ruled.

The second trial involves the first test of an anti-terrorism law in which Looker and Clarksburg Fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers are accused of providing resources to be used in an attack on the FBI center.

The other two trials, both involving transportation of explosives across state lines, are awaiting a scheduling order by Stamp.

The FBI launched its investigation two months after the Oklahoma City bombing after militia members allegedly discussed three targets including the FBI's fingerprint center in Clarksburg. The other targets were not named.

All seven were arrested Oct. 11 after Looker sold FBI center blueprints for $50,000 to an FBI agent posing as the middleman for a Middle East terrorist organization.

Updated July 16, 1997
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