Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011
4 domestic terror suspects ordered to stay in jail
Four suspected members of a fringe north Georgia militia group were ordered to stay in jail by a Magistrate Court judge on Wednesday.
Frederick Thomas, Dan Roberts, Ray Adams and Samuel Crump all made their first appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Gainesville. All four men walked into court wearing orange jumpsuits issued by the Hall County Jail.
The four men were arrested Tuesday by federal authorities and charged with plotting to buy explosives and trying to make a deadly toxin in a plot to attack unnamed government officials. Authorities say at least two of the suspects are former federal employees.
Magistrate Court Judge Susan Cole read the charges against all four men and asked them if they could afford to hire their own attorneys. All four said no and requested court appointed lawyers instead. Minutes later, a Hall County prisoner transport van took the four suspects back to jail, Channel 2's Richard Elliot reported.
Friends and relatives of some of the suspects sat in back of court and watched the proceedings. As they left, all of them, including the suspects' attorney, declined to comment.
The men were part of a group that also tried to obtain an unregistered explosive device and sought out the complex formula to produce ricin, a biological toxin that can be lethal in small doses, according to a federal complaint.
The men live in the north Georgia towns of Cleveland and Toccoa. Channel 2's Eric Philips traveled across the area on Wednesday and spoke to neighbors.
Lisa Knight told Philips she lives next to Samuel Crump and Crump's sister and never suspected anything.
"He actually helped me out with getting my kids Christmas presents and stuff. I would have never thought of nothing like that," Knight said.
Residents say Crump and Adams frequented a Toccoa Waffle House restaurant.
"I'd see Ray and Sammy all the time and I love them both to death and would do anything for them," said worker Justin Gaddison. Other restaurant workers told Philips that they heard the men openly trying to recruit for their group and they often complained about the government.
The men have been talking about "covert" operations since at least March 2011, according to court records, discussing murder, theft and using toxic agents and assassinations to undermine the state and federal government.
At one meeting, investigators said, Thomas openly discussed creating a "bucket list" of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he felt needed to be "taken out." Thomas' wife, Charlotte, called the charges "baloney."
"He spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy. He would not do anything against his country," she told The Associated Press.
Thomas and Roberts are accused of buying what they believed was a silencer and an unregistered explosive from an undercover informant in May and June 2011. Prosecutors said he discussed using the weapons in attacks against federal buildings.
Prosecutors said Crump also discussed making 10 pounds of ricin and dispersing it in Atlanta and various cities across the nation, suggesting it can be blown out of a car speeding down an interstate highway. Crump worked at the Center for Disease Control in the past for a contractor that did maintenance at the agency.
Adams, meanwhile, is accused of showing an informant the formula to make ricin and identifying the ways to obtain the ingredients. He worked as a lab technician for a USDA agency known as the Agricultural Research Service.
Charlotte Thomas said her husband was arrested in a restaurant in Cornelia, Ga., and federal agents were at her home when she returned from the grocery store Tuesday afternoon. She said the agents wouldn't let her in her home.
"They tore up my house," Thomas said.
She said her husband doesn't have an attorney yet.
Margaret Roberts, of Toccoa, said FBI agents showed up with a search warrant and went through her home, handcuffing her and taking a computer and other items.
She said her husband is retired from the sign business and lives on pensions.
"He's never been in trouble with the law. He's not anti-government. He would never hurt anybody," she said.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the case is a reminder that "we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security."