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Alaska Beat

Alaska militia man and wife seek bankruptcy protection

  • Author: Jill Burke
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published October 12, 2012

Lonnie and Karen Vernon, who will spend up to 27 and nearly 17 years, respectively, in federal prison for planning to kill a U.S. judge, have filed for bankruptcy.

Lonnie Vernon was a low-ranking member of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, an anti-government group led by Schaeffer Cox of Fairbanks. But before Vernon became entangled with Cox and his movement, he and his wife had already run afoul of the government. The IRS had caught up with the tax-evading couple and was taking measures to seize the couple's home, located in the woods north of Fairbanks. In protesting the IRS's authority to seize their home, the Vernons filed long and bizarre arguments about how, as self-declared sovereign citizens, the U.S. government had no rightful power over them. They lost the case.

Vernon's association with Cox only made matters worse. While he was plotting with his wife to wreak revenge on the judge who ruled agains them in the tax case, Lonnie Vernon had also become a player in violent government plot hatched by Cox and his supporters that included amassing illegal weapons and a pledge to kill federal authorities in an effort to help Cox avoid capture.

According to the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, the Vernons filed for bankruptcy protection last week from their jail cells. The paper reports the Vernons only listed asset is their $189,000 home in Salcha, and they are supposedly more than $246,000 in debt.

Opening the bankruptcy case narrowly kept the home off the auction block, but it us unclear whether the tactic will work. According to the News Miner, the judge overseeing the case was dissatisfied that the couple had not sought credit counseling prior to filing for bankruptcy, a requirement until federal law.

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