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
In alleged FBI center plot
Arraignment for 6 of 7
set Friday in Wheeling
Arraignment hearings for six of the seven men allegedly involved in the plot to blow up Clarksburg's FBI fingerprint facility will take place as scheduled Friday in Wheeling.
The hearings will be handled by U.S. Magistrate James E. Seibert. The proceedings for the men, all with alleged ties to the Mountaineer Militia, are set to begin at 1:30 p.m. in the federal courthouse.
Going before the magistrate will be Jane Lew's James R. "Rich" Rogers; Fairmont's Jack Arland Phillips; Waynesburg, Pa.'s Terrell P. Coon; Maple Heights, Ohio's James M. "J.J." Johnson; Cleveland's Imam A. Lewis, and Wayne County's Edward F. Fred Moore.
Only the arraignment of Floyd Raymond "Ray" Looker was postponed. Looker, commander of the Mountaineer Militia and alleged ringleader of the plot, will have his arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, in Wheeling.
The seven men were arrested on Oct. 11 The FBI made the apprehensions at locations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio following a 16-month investigation.
According to Fawn Thomas, media coordinator for U.S. Attorney William D. Wilmoth, Looker's arraignment date was changed because his attorney had previous plans.
Thomas said those situations occur frequently.
"It's common because of the amount of scheduling we do and the significant caseloads that many attorneys have," Thomas said. "Often, the judge will make the schedule and it conflicts with an attorney's work schedule or personal schedule."
Looker is represented by Stephen Herndon of Wheeling. Originally, Looker was represented by David Jividen, but asked for new counsel at the start of his preliminary and detention hearing in Elkins on Oct. 17.
Although Looker said he had no problems with Jividen's ability, he thought the fact that Jividen's wife, Betsy, was employed as a part-time federal prosecutor could be a possible conflict of interest.
"This is no reflection on Mr. Jividen's ability or anything else. Considering the nature of the charge and who my opponent (the government) is, I would rather _ I would like to keep my distance from that opponent as much as possible," Looker said at his detention hearing.
There will be no new evidence presented at the arraignment. The defendants will enter a plea of not guilty and will likely have their trial dates scheduled.
A U.S. magistrate can only entertain pleas of not guilty, Thomas said. Arrangements with a judge have to be made if one of the defendants opts to plead guilty.
Among the charges are conspiracy to manufacture explosives and transport explosives across state lines to place near the FBI's fingerprint facility in Clarksburg.
The men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Wheeling on Nov. 8.
Updated November 21, 1996
Mazzei Files Motion To
Have Rogers Released
The lawyer for one of the defendants accused in the alleged plot to blow up Clarksburg's FBI Fingerprint facility has filed a motion to have his client released until being brought to trial, according to documents obtained from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Rocco E. Mazzei, counsel for James R. "Rich" Rogers, filed a motion for revocation of a detention order pending trial. The motion was filed in Clarksburg on Nov. 8.
"We will appeal the detention of Rich Rogers to the District Judge's level," Mazzei said.
Rogers was arrested on Oct. 11 by federal officials for his part in the plot. Also on that date, six others were arrested by federal agents, all with alleged ties to the Mountaineer Militia.
Along with Rogers, Floyd Raymond "Ray" Looker of Stonewood, the commander of the Mountaineer Militia and alleged ringleader of the activities, was apprehended. Joining those two were Jack Arland Phillips of Fairmont; Terrell P. Coon, Waynesburg, Pa.; James M. "J.J." Johnson, Maple Heights, Ohio; Imam A. Lewis, Cleveland, and Edward F. "Fred" Moore, Wayne County.
Rogers, a lieutenant with the Clarksburg Fire Department, allegedly photographed blueprints of the FBI facility. The blueprints were transferred to Looker who allegedly sold them for $50,000 to a federal agent posing as a broker for a Middle Eastern terrorist group.
Rogers, with a Jane Lew mailing address but physically living in Harrison County, was ordered held without bond at a preliminary and detention hearing on Oct. 22 in Elkins. The order for detention was made by United States Magistrate David Core.
The next action took place on Nov. 8 by a federal grand jury in Wheeling as Rogers and the six others were indicted. He was named in two parts of a three-count indictment.
Count one alleges that Looker and Rogers conspired with each other from June 1995 to Oct. 11, 1996 to commit the offense of providing material support and resources with the knowledge and intent that the material support and resources provided would be used in the preparation for committing an injury to the FBI facility in Clarksburg.
Count two alleges that Rogers unlawfully and knowingly provided material support or resources on Feb. 18, 1996, with the intent that said material or resources were to be used in preparation for injuring the property of the FBI's facility in Clarksburg.
Mazzei disputes many of the allegations made in the government's case. In fact, several reasons for Mazzei asking for the detention order to be revoked are listed in the nine-page document.
Among the reasons, some of which are paraphrased, Mazzei listed are:
_ the magistrate found, by a preponderance of the evidence that Rogers did not present a risk of nonappearance (not a risk of flight). The magistrate found by a preponderance of the evidence, that Rogers had substantial community and family ties; had no history of drug or alcohol abuse; had no criminal record; and will have gainful employment if released.
_ the magistrate and counsel were provided with a pre-trial service investigation report conducted by John Burlass, U.S. Probation Officer. This report was not allowed to leave the courtroom.
Updated November 18, 1996
Ashcraft Reflects on Militia Case
A month has passed since Clarksburg was rocked with the news of an alleged plot to blow up its FBI Fingerprint Facility and City Manager Percy Ashcraft is hopeful any wounds coming as a result of the event have since healed.
"That day didn't define Clarksburg," Ashcraft said. "But, that day certainly caused a lot of residents to take notice about what we have here and what's important."
On that day, October 11, Floyd Raymond "Ray" Looker and six others were apprehended by FBI officials in various locations throughout West Virginia and Ohio. The seven men were alleged to have a part in a conspiracy to destroy the city's multi-million dollar FBI facility.
Looker, of Stonewood and head of the Mountaineer Militia, was the main target in a 16-month investigation by federal officials and the state police. Although there were no Clarksburg residents involved with the incident, Clarksburg Fire Department Lt. James R. "Rich" Rogers, a resident of Jane Lew, was also key to the alleged plot.
Rogers supposedly took photographs of blueprints of the facility and transferred the documents to Looker. Looker then allegedly sold the photos to an undercover FBI agent posing as a broker for a Middle Eastern terrorist organization for $50,000.
Additional twists and turns in the alleged plot still draws national headlines. But, since that day, the media attention has dwindled and the spotlight on Clarksburg has dimmed.
However, the incident is still in the news. Detention trials have been held and indictments have been handed down. And in the very near future, an arraignment of all seven individuals in front of a United States Magistrate will take place.
The occurrence and its ramifications are still there. But, a level of normalcy and safety has returned, even with the reminders that something of a sinister nature allegedly almost happened in the city's own backyard.
"I think we took a good a look at ourselves and by that, I mean everybody, from residents to city employees to the leaders of the community," Ashcraft said. "Even though it came and went quickly, it was still a time when people took a look in the mirror and were reminded about all of the good things that we have in this city. At the same time, everyone became aware that everything could be wiped out in a matter of hours if a major negative incident would have occurred in our midst."
One thing Ashcraft feels strongly about is the perception of Clarksburg. Although it's important to him how outsiders view the city of 18,000 people, he's more worried with how those living within the municipality view their home.
"It's important for those coming through Clarksburg and visiting Clarksburg to have a good understanding that the city is positive and progressive," Ashcraft said. "But, it's critical for us to make sure that everyone living here is reminded about the quality of life in this area and how nice it is to be part of the community.
"We should never take anything for granted about what we have," Ashcraft continued. "You can't say just forget what happened. But, you can look at big cities and cities in other countries where terrorist and gang activity happens on such a regular basis. We need to appreciate that fact."
While Ashcraft is looking forward to having the militia-incident settled, he steered clear of saying anything like this could ever happen again.
"We don't believe something like this will happen, but it would be unrealistic to say it won't happen again. There's always that potential," Ashcraft said. "We just need to do what we can to discourage the type of incident from ever happening again."
One thing that won't change as the result of the alleged plot is a major overhaul in the format of who has access to blueprints of buildings at the Clarksburg Fire Department. According to Ashcraft, the element of trust will still be used as a measuring stick for access.
"We have taken a look at our policies. But, as I've said before, we don't have any
major changes planned for the way our fire department does business," Ashcraft said. "I don't feel like the fire department did anything wrong. It was an alleged betrayal of trust by one of our leading officers who allegedly performed a wrong.
"You have to trust people. If you don't trust when you promote and put people in responsible positions then you can't operate," he continued. "We'll continue to trust those we promote. I think everyone that's in a current role of responsibility throughout any city department is there because of their merit."
Updated November 13, 1996
Militia Members Araigned
The arraignment hearing for Floyd Raymond "Ray" Looker and six others involved in allegedly plotting to blow up Clarksburg's FBI Fingerprint Identification Center will be held on Nov. 22 in Wheeling.
On that Friday, the seven men who all have alleged ties to the Mountaineer Militia will likely take the last step before heading to trial. The hearing will start at 1:30 p.m. in front of United States Magistrate James E. Seibert.
Looker, of Stonewood and the commander of the Mountaineer Militia, is considered the key player in the alleged violations of federal law. Along with Looker, three other West Virginia residents were indicted along with two from Ohio and a man from Pennsylvania.
Jane Lew's James R. "Rich" Rogers, Fairmont's Jack Arland Phillips and Wayne County's Edward F. "Fred" Moore all have been listed in the indictments. The rest of those allegedly involved include Waynesburg, Pa.'s Terrell P. Coon, Maple Heights, Ohio's James M. "J.J." Johnson and Cleveland's Imam A. Lewis.
"The men will enter their pleas in the case," said Fawn Thomas, media coordinator for U.S. Northern District Attorney William D. Wilmoth. "They have to enter a plea of not guilty in front of a U.S. Magistrate. The magistrates don't have the authority to deal with a plea of guilty. If the defendants want to enter a plea of guilty, their attorney has to make an arrangement with a judge to handle the matter."
Along with the pleas, several other matters will likely be handled. Ms. Thomas said the court dates for the seven men will be set. She said all seven men will have their arraignments and, probably their trials, at the same time. She said it's possible some of the attorneys might ask for a new detention hearing. If not, the detention will likely be continued, she said.
The seven men should have their cases heard within the next few months. The federal court system is required by the federal Speedy Trial Law to move the case along as quickly as possible.
"Under the Speedy Trial Act, the defendants have the right to have a trial within 70 days of their appearance on the charges that led to the indictment," Ms. Thomas said. "In this case, the 70-day period will start on Nov. 22."
The 70-day time frame is not etched in stone. Ms. Thomas said there are several ways it can be postponed.
"If the defendant or the government files any pre-trial motions, the 70-day period stops. The time frame restarts once the motions are answered by the courts.
"The trial, obviously, can be postponed by a motion of the government or the defense if they can show the court good reasons," Ms. Thomas said. "There are any number of reasons that could happen."
Already, the men have faced preliminary and detention hearings and had their case heard by a federal grand jury in Wheeling. In fact, on Nov. 8 the grand jury returned four indictments on the men for allegedly conspiring to manufacture explosives, transport explosives across state lines and place them near Clarksburg's FBI facility.
The men are currently being detained in federal custody. They are being held without bond.
The seven men were apprehended in various locations on Oct. 11 by FBI agents. Looker was apprehended in Star City, near Morgantown, after transferring photos of the blueprints of the Clarksburg FBI Center to an undercover agent posing as a broker for a Middle East terrorist group.
Looker allegedly sold the blueprints for $50,000. He received the photos from Rogers, a lieutenant with the Clarksburg Fire Department, who had access to the prints. The FBI moved in for the arrests after Looker allegedly consummated the deal.
Looker's attorney, Stephen Herndon of Wheeling, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Updated November 13, 1996
FBI agent testifies that Looker "admitted to everything"
ELKINS _ FBI special agent J.C. Raffety's testified during Floyd Raymond "Ray" Looker's preliminary detention hearing that Looker "admitted to everything" in the alleged plot to destroy Clarksburg's FBI facility and two other federal buildings after being taken into custody on Oct. 11.
According to Raffety, Looker, the commanding general of the Mountaineer Militia, willingly told FBI officials of his involvement with the criminal complaints the government had brought against him. Looker allegedly made his statements after he was taken into custody the early in the morning of Oct. 11.
Testimony by Raffety proved to be strong enough for United States Magistrate David Core to opt to hold Looker held without bond pending trial.
Raffety said Looker met with an undercover agent on the morning of his arrest with a packet of information on Clarksburg's FBI Fingerprint facility. Looker, Raffety alleges, was under the impression the undercover agent, known as "Steve," was a broker for a Middle East terrorist organization.
The arrangement was to have Looker receiving $50,000 for the packet containing information on the Clarksburg FBI Fingerprint Facility. According to Raffety's testimony, the packet contained items including 35 photos of the actual construction bid sheets, photos of the facility and of the Benedum Airport taken by Looker, other photos and negatives of the center, a geological survey and a soil conservation study of the site.
Looker and the agent met that morning and drove to a secure location in Morgantown, Raffety testified. At the location, Looker provided the packet and the agent provided the $50,000.
Raffety said Looker proceeded to count, bill by bill, the money and checked to see if they were counterfeit in nature. He also allegedly skimmed $10,000 off the top and stuffed it into the back of his thermal underwear, Raffety testified.
When Looker and the agent departed the building, Looker was apprehended by Raffety and several other agents. The situation went without incident.
According to Raffety, Looker was armed with a loaded 9MM Reuger and a loaded .22 caliber Taurus pistol.
"Both weapons were chambered," Raffety said.
Raffety said Looker was advised of his rights following his arrest. Counsel for the United States Government, David Godwin, then asked Raffety if Looker admitted to the allegations against him.
"He (Looker) made statements that he was involved in all of the criminal acts," said Raffety.
Stephen D. Herndon, counsel for Looker, said Looker's deal provided the undercover agent with goods that could readily be obtained elsewhere. Herndon said Looker's packet was a combination of legal items.
The main ingredients of the package, the photographs of the facility's blueprints, were provided by Clarksburg Fire Department Lt. James R. "Rich" Rogers. Rogers' lawyer, Rocco Mazzei, similarly argued during Rogers' detention hearing that the blueprints are not classified materials.
However, Core, when rendering his decision to detain Looker, mentioned that Looker had intent to do harm with the materials. Core's opinion may have been solidified when Raffety was called back to the stand.
During his second appearance, Raffety was asked questions regarding some of Looker's comments from the transcripts of more than 200 audio tapes made during the 16-month investigation.
According to Raffety, on one tape the FBI's cooperative witness, or informant, which is O. Marshall Richards, allegedly expressed his concerns about the blueprints ending up in the hands of terrorists. Raffety said Looker stated on audio tape "they have a better capacity to knock out that place (the Clarksburg center) than we'll ever have."
Looker allegedly made additional comments when Richards asked
him about the possible endangerment of 2,000 people at the center. Raffety testified Looker allegedly stated "friend, it's going to happen anyway."
Herndon also tried to establish the explosives acquired by Looker was not dangerous and that there were no imminent plans to attack any target. Following the hearing, Herndon said one set of explosives was merely flash powder in cardboard boxes.
Looker's attorney said it could only be fatal "if you swallowed it, or stuck it in your ear." Herndon said that Looker and the others involved were, "inefficient, ill-informed, and ill-advised, but not criminals."
Core did deny a motion to release Looker at the beginning of today's hearing. Looker's new counsel, Stephen D. Herndon, asked for Core to release Looker on a jurisdictional issue.
Herndon said, based on United State code, Looker's hearing did not occur within the prescribed time frame.
Herndon felt the preliminary hearing did not take place within 10 days of arrest. And, it could only take place after that time frame if Looker waived that right. Herndon said Looker did not waive the right.
Core pointed out that Looker, by law, was to have his detention hearing within five days and the preliminary hearing within 10 days. Core said the time considered is five working days and that Looker's original hearing set for Oct. 17 was "well within the time frame."
Although Looker's hearing was postponed due to requesting new counsel on Oct. 17, Core said today's hearing was a continuation of the original hearing.
The 56-year-old Stonewood resident is being charged in four criminal complaints. The complaints allege that Looker conspired and agreed to provide material and support and resources with the intent that they were to be used in the preparation for committing an injury or depredation against the Clarksburg FBI facility; conspired to engage in the business of manufacturing and dealing in explosive materials; caused explosive materials to be transported in interstate commerce from Ohio to West Virginia and caused explosive materials to be transported in interstate commerce from Pennsylvania to West Virginia.
The complaints were what led to Looker's arrest near Morgantown on Oct. 11. His apprehension for the alleged actions were part of a 16-month investigation by the FBI.
Three other men were ordered held without bond during the initial detention hearings on Oct. 17. James R. "Rich" Rogers, Terrell P. Coon and Jack A. Phillips all had their hearings completed and will be held until further court action.
Looker's detention hearing was originally scheduled for that day. However, he asked Core to provide him with new counsel at the hearing.
David Jividen, a Wheeling attorney, was released as Looker's court-appointed counsel. Looker had a problem with Jividen's wife, Betsy, working as a part-time federal prosecutor.
"Considering the nature of the charges against me, I would like to keep my distance from the opponent (the government) as much as possible," Looker told Core during his initial hearing in Elkins.
Herndon, also a Wheeling attorney, was appointed as Looker's counsel Monday afternoon by Core.
Updated October 29, 1996
The following are by the Associated Press
Brought to you from
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Arraignment Date Changes for Looker
Arraignment Date Changes for Looker
WHEELING (AP) _ An arraignment date for the leader of the Mountaineer Militia has been rescheduled for Dec. 2, officials said.
Floyd "Ray" Looker of Stonewood, Harrison County, is accused with six others with militia ties in an alleged plot to bomb three federal targets, including the FBI center in Clarksburg.
The charges include conspiracy to manufacture explosives, transport explosives across state lines and place them near the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services center in Clarksburg.
The arraignments for the six others charged in the case in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia will be held Nov. 22 in federal court in Wheeling, as originally scheduled, a court spokeswoman said.
Updated November 19, 1996
7 men with militia ties are named by fed grand jury
WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) _ A federal grand jury returned indictments today against seven men with militia ties in an alleged conspiracy to bomb the FBI center in Clarksburg and two other federal targets.
Floyd "Ray" Looker of Stonewood, Harrison County, and commander of the Mountaineer Militia, was charged along with six others with conspiracy to manufacture explosives, transport explosives across state lines and place them near the FBI center.
The maximum penalty for any of the individual counts contained in the indictments was 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, said U.S. Attorney William Wilmoth.
The indictments were handed up by a federal grand jury meeting for its regular November term in Wheeling. They do not differ substantially to charges contained in the original arrest warrants.
The seven from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio had been ordered detained.
Agents said they moved in Oct. 11 after Looker sold blueprint copies of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services complex for $50,000 to an agent posing as a middleman for a terrorist organization.
The blueprint copies were obtained by Clarksburg Fire Lt. James R. Rogers, who took photographs of blueprints on file at the fire department.
The photos, when pieced together like a puzzle, provided a complete picture of the FBI center, including its underground computer center and underground utilities, the FBI said.
Recordings indicated Looker was more concerned about money than in whose hands the FBI blueprints would end up.
He was quoted as saying, "They have a better capacity of knocking that place out than we ever will."
The FBI center was identified as one of three federal targets by an FBI informant who attended a militia training session in Lewis County in June 1995. The other targets have not been identified.
Prosecutors say , Jack A. Phillips, 57, of Fairmont, and Fred Moore, 52, of Lavalette, Wayne County, were enlisted for their bomb-making skills in an arrangement where Looker would sell the bombs and the men would receive a share of profits.
Terrell P. Coon of Waynesburg, Pa.; James M. Johnson of Maple Heights, Ohio; and Imam A. Lewis of Cleveland were charged with crossing state lines to provide explosives to the Looker.
The plot was uncovered by an undercover informant who was tapped by Looker to be the militia's intelligence and security officer.
O. Marshall Richards, a Clarksburg native who is now under FBI protection, made 200 tape recordings of his dealings with militia members that led to the arrests on Oct. 11.
Richards was compensated about $30,000 for his work during the 18-month investigation and for relocation costs.
Defense lawyers attacked the informant's credibility and motives.
"I call him the 'paid witness,' not the 'confidential witness,"' said attorney Jerald Jones.
Updated November 11, 1996
Details Come Out
(AP)_The informant who authorities
said helped unravel a plot to blow
up the FBI center never showed
up for a lawsuit in which a Pittsburgh man was awarded $33,000,
according to court documents.
The lawsuit accused O. Marshall Richards, his father and another business partner of using fraud and deception in their dealings with a man who bought into
their business selling medical alarm systems.
A default judgment was issued
in Pennsylvania six years before Richards emerged as the key witness in the FBI's investigation into the Mountaineer Militia.
Lawrence J. Byrne of Pittsburgh said he is still trying to collect $33,000 he invested after a phony sales demonstration.
"It wasn't working out for me,"
said Byrne, a salesman. "I asked for help. They wouldn't give me
any help. I asked for my money back. That's when they filed for
bankruptcy and closed the doors."
Richards' observations and 200
tape recordings resulted in federal charges against Mountaineer
Militia commander Floyd "Ray" Looker and six others in a plot to
bomb three federal targets, including the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services complex, the FBI alleged. The other targets were not identified.
Richards was paid $2,000 a
month while reporting on alleged criminal activities by Looker and
others, according to FBI Special Agent J.C. Raffety.
The default judgment likely will
provide more ammunition for defense lawyers who have already
sought to discredit the informant because he was paid about $30,000
in expenses and relocation costs.
But U.S. Attorney William Wilmoth said he was not alarmed about the lawsuit. He said it is not unusual to see businesses fail or
to see lawsuits arise from business dealings.
He expects defense lawyers to
keep up attacks on Richards' credibility.
"That's all they have," he said.
"Their (clients') voices are on tape."
Richards attended Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi from 1985 to 1989, but he did not graduate, according to a school official. He described himself as a former Navy SEAL, according to the lawsuit.
He also worked for a time as a consultant for the National Research Center for Coal & Engineering at West Virginia University and received $18,500 for his work in its alternative fuel program from June 1 through last September, the university said.
Before that, Richards apparently tried to start a business called Emergency Monitoring Technology, which sold equipment to allow a person to push a button and summon help in a medical emergency.
Byrne said he traveled to Clarksburg for a demonstration of the "H.E.L.P.S." system and returned to Pittsburgh so convinced of its worth that he paid $23,000 to the company for two territories in Allegheny County, Pa., which includes Pittsburgh.
His lawsuit contended Richards, the company president, took him on a "sales call," but Byrne said he learned later that the same family was used repeatedly by Richards to impress potential investors.
Byrne said he had trouble selling the $2,000 system because hospitals offered the hardware for free and people using it pay only a small monthly fee for the service.
In all, he paid $33,000 including telemarketers and newspaper advertisements in the failed business, he said.
Byrne said he did not get to know Richards well and that he does not care about the FBI investigation.
"I'm just concerned about getting my money back," he said. "I don't care what he does."
Looker and the six others accused in the bombing plot have been ordered detained pending further proceedings. The cases will to go a federal grand jury next month, Wilmoth said.
Updated October 29, 1996
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