By Rebecca Palsha and Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
7:14 PM AKST, January 8, 2013
A federal judge sentenced 28-year-old Fairbanks Schaeffer Cox, convicted in June as the ringleader of a plot to kidnap or kill federal agents, to nearly 26 years in prison Tuesday.
Before he was sentenced, Cox asked for mercy and apologized to the people involved in the case.
“I know I put myself here,” Cox said.
Cox’s 310-month sentence comes a day after the sentencing of conspirators Lonnie and Karen Vernon. Lonnie Vernon received a nearly identical sentence to Cox, while Karen Vernon was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
During federal raids in March 2011, Cox and the Vernons were arrested as part of a so-called “241” plot, in which Alaska Peacemakers Militia members had pledged to kidnap two federal officers or judges for every militia member arrested or kill two for every militia member killed. Members of the group also possessed a number of illegal weapons including machine guns, grenades and suppressed pistols.
The defense said that since Cox has been in prison he has been diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic. The defense said the diagnoses could explain Cox’s behavior, which became increasingly paranoid over the years.
“I know I said a lot of really scary, intimidating things,” Cox said. “But that was emotional-driven, fear-driven bluff.”
Judge Robert Bryan called Cox a danger to the public, but said he could get the medical care he needs while in prison.
“I’m not satisfied he’d get that (medical help) out of jail,” Bryan said.
Cox told Bryan he never intended to hurt anyone, and also told him he’s a peaceful man who’s been able to avoid being in a fight during the two years he’s been in prison.
Prosecutors had recommended that Cox serve 35 years in prison. Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki said he was satisfied with the sentence.
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