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U.S. militia members on trial in Georgia for anti-government ricin plot

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Jury selection began on Monday in the trial of two alleged domestic militia members charged with conspiring to produce ricin, the biological toxin.

If convicted, Samuel Crump and Ray Adams could be sentenced to life in prison. Both men are in their 60s.

According to the indictment, Adams met in April 2011 with co-conspirators and suggested forming a militia group to attack government buildings with toxins.

In September of that year, Crump allegedly discussed a plan to produce 10 pounds of ricin and distribute it to several cities across the United States, the indictment said. In that meeting, Crump identified Adams as the man who would make the Ricin, the indictment alleged.

Crump and Adams and were two of four alleged North Georgia militia members arrested in late 2011. Authorities said they had been monitoring the group for months with the help of a confidential informant, who recorded conversations about the men's plans to carry out attacks against federal buildings and employees.

Two of the four, Frederick Thomas and Dan Roberts, pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy charges and were sentenced to five years in prison. Thomas was described by federal authorities as the group's leader.

Thomas had made a list of government employees, politicians and others who he said should be "taken out" to "make the country right again," prosecutors said in a statement after the sentencing.

According to prosecutors, Thomas said during a meeting with other members of the group: "When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die."

But Thomas' attorney, Jeffrey Ertel, said in court documents that his client and Roberts were not planning attacks but were instead preparing to protect themselves "in the event of a catastrophic event which included the federal government turning its weapons on the people of the United States."

The trial will be held in federal court in Gainesville, Georgia.

(Editing by David Adams and Matthew Lewis)

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