by Chris Klint
11:21 AM AKST, March 11, 2011
Alaska State Troopers and federal authorities arrested five people in the Fairbanks area Thursday night, in connection with an alleged plot to launch an attack on local troopers and judges.
Francis “Schaeffer” Cox, Lonnie Vernon, Karen Vernon, Coleman Barney and Michael Anderson were collectively charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit arson, third-degree misconduct involving weapons, first-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. All five people were arrested without incident.
U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler’s office announced separate federal charges Friday against Lonnie Vernon for threatening to kill a U.S. District Court judge. The Associated Press says federal prosecutors have identified the targeted judge as Ralph Beistline.
According to Loeffler, Vernon threatened to murder Beistline and his family as retaliation for rulings he issued in a pending civil tax case involving Vernon.
Troopers say an investigation revealed plans to kidnap or kill troopers and a Fairbanks judge. Sealed strategic arrest warrants were subsequently granted by the courts, then carried out by the troopers’ Special Emergency Reaction Team, Fairbanks patrol troopers, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Fairbanks Police Department.
The investigation also revealed extensive surveillance on the homes of two Fairbanks troopers. Officials say the defendants amassed a cache of weapons in order to carry out the attacks, including some prohibited by state or federal law.
A multi-jurisdictional investigation is in progress.
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