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

Looker's record
under scrutiny


Floyd Raymond Looker Jr., the "Commanding General" of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia, was a records clerk and office administrator for most of his 12 years, nine months and 18 days in the U.S. Army.

There is no indication on his official military discharge papers that Looker, who liked to wear a green beret and camouflage uniform while talking to reporters, ever saw combat during a 17-month tour in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

The records also show Looker never attended the U.S. Army's elite Special Forces (Green Berets), Ranger or Airborne (paratroop training) schools. And the highest rank he achieved before his honorable discharge on Aug. 9, 1971, was E-7, sergeant first class.

In fact, Looker's military career, which began when he was drafted in 1958 for two years and trained as a cook and baker, was fairly typical for his time, according to Army records.

Responding to a Clarksburg Telegram inquiry made shortly after Looker's Oct. 11 arrest on federal conspiracy charges that he had targeted the FBI's new computerized criminal identification center for a bomb attack, Army Major Boyd Collins answered questions today about Looker's service record.

Collins is public affairs officer for the Army Reserves' Army Personnel Center (ARPERCEN) in St. Louis, Mo. The center is part of the military's vast central repository for individual military records.

Although Looker may have experienced either occasional enemy mortar shelling or rocket attacks during his April 1968-September 1969 tour at a massive rear-area base at Qui Nhon on South Vietnam's central coast, he was not awarded the coveted combat infantry badge.

Because of the unpredictable nature of the guerilla warfare waged by South Vietnam's Viet Cong (communist militia forces) and North Vietnamese regular Army units, the U.S. Army created the combat infantryman badge to recognize troops which regularly engaged in combat.

Many rear-echelon servicemen and others performing duties in so-called "secure" areas in that war were wounded either in shelling attacks or roadside ambushes, however.

And all U.S. military bases, from a large complex like Qui Nhon to isolated mountaintop firebases deep in the jungle highlands, were also subject to attack by sappers, highly trained and motivated enemy units that sneaked through minefields and barbed wire to wreak havoc behind American defenses.

There is no notation on his records that Looker or his Vietnam unit, the 527th Personnel Service Company, were involved in such an action. When Looker first reported to Qui Nhon, he was initially assigned to the 589th Personnel Service Company.

Shortly before he rotated home on Sept. 30, 1969, Looker did win an end-of-tour Bronze Star, according to his offical record of decorations, medals and campaign ribbons.

Along with 20 other men from different units who were also awaiting "freedom flights" home after completing their tours that month, Looker's name appears on an order awarding the decoration for "meritorious service in connection with military service against a hostile enemy force."

Looker also earned a typical collection of campaign ribbons and medals, ones awarded simply for surviving a tour in a combat zone.

They include the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Republic of Vietnam's Cross of Gallantry with palm.

He also is entitled to wear a Meritorious Unit award for the 589th's performance during his tour.

Looker's shooting ability at the time of his discharge on Aug. 9, 1971, was rated as "marksman," the lowest ranking.

Looker was an experienced 28-year-old non-commissioned officer (NCO) when he went to Vietnam.

His chief military occupational specialty (MOS or job in civilian terms) was 71-L (office administrator). His records do not show him to have earned a combat MOS such as infantryman or ones applicable to service in helicopter attack, artillery or armor units.

During his first two years in the Army, he was trained as a cook and baker at Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Born on Aug. 18, 1940, he graduated from Chester-Franklin High School in Chesterville, Ohio in 1958.

He was subsequently drafted by the Selective Service Local Board No. 92 in Mount Gilead, Ohio.

He re-enlisted when his first tour was drawing to a close on Sept. 21, 1960.

Besides completing training in office and administrative schools, his Army educational and training records show he also graduated from a school for non-commissioned officers.

His overseas tours included service at 7th Army headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany (then West Germany) from November 1960 to December 1962. He also served from May 1964 to June 1967 in Oslo, Norway with another Army command.

Together with his Vietnam tour, he served a total of three years, three months and 28 days overseas.

The records show his closest contact to the famed Green Berets were several Army correspondence courses he completed on counter-insurgency warfare in 1966 while he was stationed in Norway.

In a 1968 biographical sketch he helped to prepare and which is attached to his service record, Looker claimed to also have completed a number of law school courses.

His last official discharge record of service (DD 214) shows his claim to have taken courses at the University of Georgia at Warner-Robbins, Ga. It also shows he received an "LLB" or law degree in 1967 from the Blackstone School of Law in Chicago.

Despite numerous inquiries, Telegram reporter Jeff Toquinto has been unable to confirm the existence of such a law school today in Chicago. The school could have been one which offered courses by mail at the time, authorities say.

Updated January 25, 1997
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Looker granted more time to prepare motions

WHEELING (AP) _ The leader of the Mountaineer Militia has been granted more time to file pretrial motions in his defense against charges he plotted to destroy the FBI complex in Clarksburg.

The decision this week by U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp gives Floyd "Ray" Looker until April 3 to present motions in addition to other motions he already filed this month, a court official said.

Updated March 17, 1997
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Looker seeks to have indictment thrown out

WHEELING (AP) _ One of the four indictments against the Mountaineer Militia's commander should be dismissed because the FBI launched an investigation before there was evidence of a crime, his lawyer said.

Meanwhile, the Navy said Thursday that Okey Marshall Richards Jr., the FBI's informant and the center of its case, was never a Navy SEAL as he had boasted.

Floyd "Ray" Looker's motion to dismiss one indictment contends the FBI began investigating him and the militia because of antigovernment beliefs up to two months before Richards claimed that militiamen discussed federal "targets."

Looker and six others with militia ties are accused of plotting to blow up the FBI's $200 million Criminal Justice Identification Services Division in Clarksburg, about 120 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Bill Cipriani, Looker's lawyer, contends in the motions that the FBI investigation began from the moment Richards infiltrated the militia with the FBI's approval, and not later, as an FBI special agent in charge of the investigation testified in October.

Looker, who has fired two government-appointed lawyers, is tech nically representing himself in the case, but his motions were prepared by Cipriani, his standby counsel.

His motions were among dozens filed on behalf of the defendants from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania this week in U.S. District Court, where they are set to be tried this August.

Special Agent J.C. Raffety said that he was approached by Richards, who had been used as an informant in the past, after the Oklahoma City federal building was destroyed on April 5, 1995.

Raffety said he told Richards the FBI could not investigate based solely on Looker's antigovernment statements, but that he would be interested in what Richards was able to learn.

He testified the FBI's formal investigation began after Richards reported that, during a meeting on June 4, 1995, at a 600-acre farm in Lewis County, militia commanders discussed federal targets "to be neutralized" in the event of a conflict with the government.

Cipriani contends an improper investigation violating Looker's First Amendment rights began when Richards joined the militia with Raffety's tacit approval.

"The argument we've made was the whole investigation was tainted because it was begun improperly," Cipriani said. "Our argument was that, when Raffety told Richards to go see what you can find out, at that point it became an investigation."

Defense lawyers have attacked the credibility of the informant, who defaulted on a lawsuit over a failed business venture, is divorced three times, and owes more than $33,173 in child support.

The Navy said records show Richards was not a SEAL, but it could not disclose whether he received an honorable discharge.

Richards, who is under government protection, made hundreds of tape recordings during the 16-month investigation that led to the arrests on Oct. 11. Then, the FBI said, Looker tried to sell for $50,000 photograph copies of FBI center blueprints made by a Clarksburg firefighter.

Motions by Cipriani and the lawyer for fire Lt. James "Rich" Rogers also argue that the indictment accusing the two men of providing support or resources for a terrorist act should be dropped because it is unconstitutionally vague.

And Cipriani accused the government of illegally using the grand jury process to subpoena Looker's wife and a minister, the Rev. Butch Paugh, in hopes of getting incriminating testimony.

If the indictment is dismissed, then charges against Rogers would be dropped. But Looker would still face charges in three other indictments that accuse him of conspiracy to manufacture and sell explosives, and illegally bring explosives across state lines.

Five of the defendants have been released from custody pending trial. Looker and Jack A. Phillips of Fairmont, who is accused in the conspiracy to manufacture explosives, remain in federal custody.

The other defendants presented motions asking to be tried separately.

Updated March 7, 1997
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Militia leader parts ways with defense strategist

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) _ Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd "Ray" Looker said he will do fine without the services of an Arizona paralegal he hired to plan his trial defense.

Paul Andrew Mitchell of Tucson, Ariz., said he severed his relationship with Looker last week because he was not getting paid.

The decision leaves Looker on his own about six months before trial, but he said in an interview from the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville that he will be fine without Mitchell's help.

"He's not my chief strategist," Looker said Friday night. "I'm my chief strategist."

Looker and six others from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania are charged in what prosecutors have described as a plot to blow up the FBI's $200 million fingerprint center in Clarksburg.

Mitchell crafted a number of documents and motions for Looker, who is representing himself after firing two court-appointed lawyers.

Among other things, they demanded a special three-judge panel to hear the case, attacked the federal grand jury process and questioned the qualifications of Attorney General Janet Reno and others.

But Mitchell never got the chance to present his belief that a number of federal officials from U.S. Attorney William Wilmoth to President Clinton received kickbacks for the militia's takedown.

Mitchell contends Clinton himself got $35,000 for each of the four indictments returned in the case.

Looker also believes in the kickback theory but would not say whether he planned to pursue Mitchell's strategy of trying to subpoena Clinton to ask him about the allegations.

"A war is fought with many strategies, many tactics. If you can fight the war without ever firing a shot, then you're considered a more capable commander," Looker said.

It may be just as well he lost Mitchell's services.

Franklin Cleckley, professor at the West Virginia University Law School and former supreme court justice, reviewed Mitchell's documents and found them to be "more of a crusade than a legal defense."

"These motions that were filed, I think they somewhat underscore my concern when a defendant facing serious criminal charges decides to go pro se (represent himself)," Cleckley said.

Mitchell, who calls himself "counselor at law" and claims to operate an Internet-based law school, said the militia paid some of his office expenses but that he was owed $7,000 when he left the case.

"I realized I was being put in an impossible situation to do all the work, not get paid and then get criticized for it," Mitchell said. "So I put a halt to it."

Either with or without Mitchell's services, lawyers for the six other clients may not want to be in the same courtroom with Looker when he presents his defense this August.

Jerald Jones, lawyer for Jack Phillips of Fairmont, said he will likely seek a separate trial for his client. Jones said he believes the other defense lawyers share his concerns.

"I think there's always a concern when you have a defendant representing himself, that in the process of trying to have his own case, he could do a lot of damage to his co-defendants," Jones said.

At trial, Looker will have a lawyer on hand to answer questions, but he will be responsible for crafting his own motions, questioning witnesses and presenting opening and closing statements.

Looker said that he should not be counted out.

"It's like playing a game of chess," Looker said. "Until you make the last move, the game is not over."

Updated February 25, 1997
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Looker will represent himself

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _The Mountaineer Militia leader who fired two court-appointed lawyers has been granted his wish of representing himself during his trials in August in Wheeling.

Floyd "Ray" Looker will present his own opening and closing statements and will question witnesses in U.S. District Court, according to a magistrate's order filed on Wednesday.

William Cipriani, Looker's third court-appointed lawyer, said he does not know what duties that leaves for him.

"Frankly, I'm not exactly sure until I get a written order from the judge specifying exactly what's expected of me," Cipriani said Wednesday in a telephone interview from his Wellsburg office.

Looker is accused with six other men from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania in an alleged plot to blow up the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services complex in Clarksburg.

Looker, 57, of Stonewood, Harrison County, initially made his request to represent himself at a hearing in which Stephen D. Herndon, his second attorney, was dismissed on Dec. 13.

He reiterated his request at a hearing on Monday, Jan 13.

Looker said Wednesday night in an interview from the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville that he noticed the coincidence of the unlucky dates but that he did not feel unlucky.

"Unlucky for them, not for me," said Looker, who has attempted to file 18 motions with the help of an Arizona man, Paul Andrew Mitchell of Tucson, whose help Looker has enlisted.

Under Magistrate James E. Seibert's order, Cipriani will act on a standby basis to answer Looker's questions and to step in if Looker decides he doesn't want represent himself after all.

Looker also asked the magistrate Monday to allow Mitchell to serve as a second court-appointed counsel.

Seibert rejected Looker's request because Mitchell is not registered with the federal district court.

In fact, Mitchell is not registered to practice law in either Arizona or West Virginia. He describes himself as a "counselor at law" who has been retained to write legal briefs for Looker.

In other developments, two Ohio men who were released on bond on Christmas Eve have pleaded innocent to charges of selling explosives to the Mountaineer Militia, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Imam Lewis of Cleveland and James Johnson of suburban Maple Heights were the last of seven suspects to appear for initial hearings and arraignments Jan. 10, said Jolyon McCamic, Lewis' lawyer.

Their hearings were delayed while they fought extradition to West Virginia and sought release on bond. Extradition became a moot point when they were released on $5,000 bond on Dec. 24.

One other suspect, Clarksburg Fire Lt. James Rogers, has been released on bond. Looker, Jack A. Phillips of Fairmont, Edward F. Moore of Lavalette, and Terrell Coon of Waynesburg, Pa., remain held without bond.

Updated January 17, 1997
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