Fairbanks militia leader Schaeffer Cox is currently on trial in federal court on weapons and murder conspiracy charges in a case that has overtones of the radical sovereign citizen movement that the FBI has recently identified has a top domestic terrorist threat. Standing trail with him are two of members of his Alaska Peacemakers Militia, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon.
Prosecutors allege the trio formulated a plan to kidnap and kill government officials, including members of law enforcement and judges -- and that they acquired illegal guns and explosives in service of that agenda. The defense has claimed investigators have seriously overreached, and that the only thing Cox is guilty of is a big mouth and that the others are guilty solely of befriending and standing by him.
Prosecutors built their case through a state-federal investigation that relied on two undercover witnesses, each with baggage of their own. One was a well-known con man who'd agreed to infiltrate Cox's group to get a break in a different criminal mess he'd gotten himself into. The other turned out to have ties to U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and at one point ended up handcuffing Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger at a public event in the weeks leading up to the 2010 election.
Who are these guys and who the heck is to be believed as the trial unfolds?
To help you unravel the events and people leading to the high-profile case, here's a list of stories past and present about Cox, the moles, and the sovereign citizen movement. Also check out or militia section.