DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge has dismissed the key charges against members of a Michigan-based militia who were accused of plotting war against the government.
The Tuesday decision is an embarrassment for the government, which secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia and claimed members were armed for war in rural southern Michigan.
Detroit federal Judge Victoria Roberts made her decision five days after prosecutors rested their case. Her decision affects all seven militia members who’ve been on trial since Feb. 13. Only weapons charges remain against two of the defendants.
Prosecutors say Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement.
Militia members are charged with conspiring to commit rebellion against the government and other crimes. The government said the Hutaree wanted to kill a police officer then attack the funeral as part of a domestic war.
Mark Satawa, the attorney for Hutaree member Michael Meeks, said his client gets to “walk.”
“My client gets to pick his life back up two years later,” Satawa told WWJ Newsradio 950. “The case for my client is over. All charges against him have been dismissed and this nightmare for him is over.
“The one thing that he’s ever said to me is that he wanted a big, thick burger and a cold beer, and I’m quite certain that the first thing he’s gonna wanna do is get a big, thick burger and a cold beer,” Satawa said. “And then he’s hopefully going to be able to pick back up the pieces of his life after illegally being locked up for two years.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheldon Light conceded this week that there’s no proof of a “specific plan” to attack the U.S. government. But he said there’s much evidence in secretly recorded discussions to show the Hutaree militia wanted to draw in federal law enforcement by killing local authorities.
There was no actual attack.
Defense lawyers said the Hutaree were simply “weekend warriors” who engaged in stupid, hateful speech, but nothing criminal. They said offensive talk was wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case.
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