Two members of a Georgia militia arrested in a disrupted plot to kill government officials last year were each sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to conspiring to obtain an unregistered explosive device and silencer.
Frederick Thomas, a 73-year-old from Cleveland, Ga., and 68-year-old Dan Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., were each sentenced to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Both were members of fringe militia organization they referred to as a "covert group." Federal authorities arrested them in November 2011 for allegedly plotting to attack U.S. citizens and federal employees using the biological toxin ricin. Their alleged targets included Attorney General Eric Holder and former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney.
One reason the feds might have chosen not to pursue further charges: Joe Sims, the FBI's confidential informant in the case wasn't exactly an upstanding citizen. Sims was accused of molesting his step children and failed a polygraph test after claiming to know about a plot to blow up buildings in Atlanta, according to a story in Esquire earlier this year.
Thomas was allegedly the leader of the group and had a "bucket list" of government officials he wanted to kill. He allegedly told his fellow co-defendants that when it "comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die." Roberts claimed to be in communication with a "loose cannon" Army soldier who could provide him with ricin and said he "could shoot ATF and IRS all day long." TPM obtained both of their mugshots via FOIA request.
"These defendants didn't just talk about killing government officials and law enforcement officers, they purchased equipment, including a silencer and what they thought were explosive devices, to carry out their plans," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. "Now they will spend five years in prison."
The feds alleged that the plot was inspired by the online novel "Absolved," which was written by Mike Vanderboegh, the blogger who wrote some of the first posts about the ATF's Fast and Furious scandal.
The two other defendants in the case -- Ray H. Adams and Samuel J. Crump -- are going to trial.