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Crime & Courts

Federal judge reduces Alaska militia leader’s conspiracy sentence

A judge has taken 10 years off the sentence of an Alaska militia leader imprisoned for a conspiracy to murder government officials, court records said.

Schaeffer Cox speaks with his attorney Robert John during an arraignment hearing at the Rabinowitz Courthouse on March 22, 2011, in Fairbanks. (Sam Harrel / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner archive 2011)

Schaeffer Cox, 35, was resentenced Tuesday in Washington state, Alaska Public Media reported Wednesday.

A 2017 appeals court decision overturned Cox's conviction for solicitation to commit murder.

The 10-year reduction to his sentence of 25 years, coupled with about seven years already served, leaves Cox with eight more years to serve in prison, officials said.

Cox was a self-described sovereign citizen and leader of the Fairbanks-based Alaska Peacemakers Militia.

He was charged in 2010 with failure to notify a police officer he was carrying a handgun. Federal prosecutors then successfully presented evidence of a plot called "241."

Cox and other militia members planned to kidnap or kill two government or law enforcement officials for every one militia member who was arrested or killed, prosecutors said.

Authorities relied on evidence provided by two undercover informants who recorded conversations with militia members trying to buy weapons, including grenades, to carry out the plot.

In the appeal of the solicitation to commit murder conviction, Cox's lawyers argued to a three-judge appellate panel that the conviction was unjust because it was simply based on Cox bringing armed and armored bodyguards to a radio appearance in North Pole.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki said the solicitation charge was a significant aspect of the conspiracy trial, which lasted five weeks and included 80 witnesses and 1,000 pieces of evidence.

“That was certainly was one piece, but not by any stretch of the imagination the only piece,” Skrocki said Wednesday. “Mr. Cox still remains convicted of conspiracy to murder federal officials, so that’s also a very serious offense.”