Update January 24th, 2012: Some of the information below is now superseded; see updated post HERE.
For the first time, there's media confirmation that Coleman Barney, one of five members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia indicted by both the federal government and the state of Alaska on a host of kidnap and murder-related conspiracy and weapons charges, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assigned to the Eielson Ward in North Pole, Alaska.
The confirmation was published on July 8th, 2011 in an Anchorage Daily News story entitled "Fairbanks militia 'major' seeks reduced federal bail". Many members of Barney's ward, outraged at the charge-stacking against Barney and the unreasonable $2 million bail levied upon him, have responded with letters of support; Kathie Dorland, describing his respected position in the church, wrote, "Coleman's home and family is centered on moral values where, alongside of his wife, teach their children integrity, honesty, morality, faith accountability and how to love and serve others." Other letter were from family, like sister-in-law Chelsea Barney who described him as a "God-fearing man" and "patriotic American concerned about America's future." ADN also discloses that Barney met his wife, Rachel, when both were serving church missions in the Nashville, TN area. They were married in Salt Lake City and, with the birth of their latest child, have five children.
The letters were written in an effort to get Coleman Barney's bail reduced to more humane levels and get him released. If Barney isn't released, his contracting firm, Mammon Electric, won't be able to fulfill more than $500,000 in jobs, resulting in suffering for employees and families. The campaign worked in part; on June 24th, 2011, a Fairbanks judge reduced Barney's bail on state charges from $2 million to $100,000. However, federal prosecutors are holding firm for no bail, releasing pictures and details of some of the evidence they seized after Barney's arrest, including more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition, illegal weapons and blueprints of a militia security operation known as "241" (two of theirs for one of ours) that discussed shooting government agents and police if peaceful resistance failed.
The Alaska Pride blog provides an organized list of the charges faced by Coleman Barney:
-- Federal Charges: Two separate charging documents HERE and HERE. Tentative trial date February 6th, 2012.
----- One count Conspiracy to Possess Unregistered Silencers and Destructive Devices
----- One count Possession of Unregistered Destructive Devices
-- State Charges: (4FA-11-00799CR): No trial date set.
----- Two counts Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the First Degree
----- Two counts Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping
----- Six counts Misconduct Involving Weapons in the Third Degree
----- One count Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree.
Update: State charges were abandoned on October 17th, 2012 when Alaska Superior Court Judge David Stewart ruled that more than 100 hours of audio and video surveillance could not be used as evidence in the state's case. Under state law, which offers greater privacy protections than the U.S. Constitution, the judge ruled the warrantless recordings unconstitutional.
Coleman Barney's wife Rachel (4FA-11-00896CR) was also indicted on one count Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree at the state level; she faces no federal charges.
Summary of the Crimes: This story is far too detailed and complex to be told in full here. The gist of it is that on March 10th, 2011, Barney and Alaska Peacemakers Militia leader Schaeffer Cox were arrested when they attempted to buy two illegally silenced pistols and six hand grenades from a government snitch. They are alleged to have been part of a conspiracy in which if they were wrongfully arrested by cops, they would shoot it out; it was called "241" because the idea was they would take out two of theirs (the cops) for one of ours (the militia). They are also alleged to have been part of a conspiracy to murder and kidnap a state judge and state trooper. Barney allegedly harbored Cox as a fugitive for a month before the arrest. In addition, Barney and Cox allegedly left a trailer full of weapons in a Fairbanks parking lot where an ice carving festival was being held. Cached in the trailer were a semi-automatic, tripod-mounted submachine gun, a fully automatic 9mm machine gun with a can of ammunition, a handgun with silencer and clips, gun-launched riot-control weapons consisting of 28 canisters of pepper spray and grenades with rubber bullets along with two launchers, a case of primers for assault-type rifles and 1,000 rounds of 30.06 ammo. Barney's pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Media sources report there are two snitches involved in the case. The second snitch, described as a person with no criminal record but is said to be someone who the defendants approached to buy grenades, silencers and other weapons because he was thought to be in a position to produce possible weaponry, is suspected to be William Fulton, former owner of the Drop Zone military surplus store on Spenard Road in Anchorage. He abruptly signed over his store to an employee, signed over his homes to attorney Wayne Anthony Ross (without compensation), and disappeared a few days after the Fairbanks arrests. When asked about whether or not Fulton may have gone into witness protection, FBI spokesman Eric Gonzales cryptically remarked, "If he were (there), we wouldn't be allowed to comment on that".
Sounds like a Yes answer to me. Both snitches reportedly are being compensated for their assistance. And therein lies the trouble with the use of snitches; how do we really know they are telling the truth? How do we know they didn't deliberately entice or entrap the Schaeffer Cox Five into going this far? What incentive does the prosecutor have to thoroughly vet a snitch, particularly if the snitch is willing to tell the government's story.
Snitches can also go rogue and commit crimes while under protective color of law. In the Edgar Steele case, superstar snitch Larry Fairfax actually attached a bomb onto Cyndi Steele's car without the knowledge of his FBI handlers. Of course, when they found out about it, they charged him, and he's now doing a 27-month federal sentence. Yet even though this came out during the trial, and Fairfax also admitted in court that he previously lied, the gullible jury swallowed his tale and convicted Edgar Steele.
Perhaps Edgar Steele and Casey Anthony should have swapped juries. The point is, any case inordinately relying upon the word of a snitch must be suspect, since one cannot be absolutely sure just who a snitch is really working for.
Another person who identifies as a member of the Eielson Ward posted this comment to a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story:
momofafew wrote on Sunday, Jul 03 at 09:24 PM:
Only the defendants, the attorneys (to some degree), the judges and to some degree the victims (the ones that had their lives threatended (to be killed or kidnapped) know some of the details of this case. Many times speculation goes in directions by well meaning individuals that do not always reflect much factual evidence or truth. I doubt if the defendants are presenting anything but their best selves to everyone (do they really want to do anything but present their best selves; what is in their best interest?) Of course, they are innocent until proven guilty. I am going to take a somewhat wild guess in assuming there is a desk FULL of evidence somewhere against them, waiting to be revealed. Until then, I don't think I'd be assuming letters from everyone, including their closest associates are anything but nice letters on their behalf, unless, of course, they witnessed something first-hand. Then, they would be, yes, evidence. I would be a little skeptical as a church member in their church (yes, I am one) of someone accused of conspiracy to commit murder. We have many different professions represented in our church. I do not myself support anyone that would murder anyone. Quite simply that is against the Commandments no matter how you slice it. I will continue to watch evidence. I am not too worried about so-in-so that says he or she or they are nice people or this, that or the other. Almost all criminals have character references. Not impressive. It's also not impressive that criminals go to church (if they are criminals). All are welcome to attend any church, unless, of course, they are in jail.