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Hutaree militia defendant pleads guilty in Michigan

DETROIT (Reuters) - One of nine members of a Midwestern militia group that prosecutors have accused of plotting to kill police to spark a wider war against the U.S. government pleaded guilty on Monday to weapons charges, prosecutors said.

Joshua John Clough, 29, formerly of Blissfield Township, Michigan, was among nine members of a group called the Hutaree facing various federal charges in an indictment unsealed in March 2010 and added to later.

The indictment accused the group's members of planning to kill a police officer in Michigan and then ambush the funeral procession using explosives. Agents seized machineguns, unregistered short-barrel shotguns, ammunition and a variety of explosives and related materials.

Attorneys for the defendants have argued that secretly recorded group conversations reflected angry exercises of free speech rights and not plans to make war on the United States.

Clough is the first to plead guilty in the case.

Prosecutors said on Monday that Clough admitted to being a Hutaree member and that the group's goals included assembling and using explosives against local, state and federal law enforcement officers and their vehicles.

He also admitted that the group conducted military-style training in Lenawee County, Michigan, on weapons proficiency, patrolling and reconnaissance, prosecutors said.

Clough faces a mandatory five-year prison sentence based on his guilty plea.

A trial is scheduled to start on February 7 for the eight remaining co-defendants.

(Writing by David Bailey. Editing by Peter Bohan)