(CN) – The 6th Circuit on Thursday temporarily blocked the release of nine members of a militia group accused of plotting to kill police officers and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
The members of the “Hutaree” anti-government group had been moved from county prisons to the federal courthouse in Detroit Thursday after U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts ordered their release, calling the government’s motion for a stay “woefully inadequate.”
But the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court granted the government’s emergency motion, “pending further review and order of the court.”
“They pose a danger to law enforcement and the community,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. “We owe it to law enforcement and the community to try to protect them.”
The members were arrested after an FBI agent infiltrated the group and secretly recorded conversations in which alleged leader Brian David Stone Sr., 45, talked about killing police and using explosives at a police funeral, according to a federal grand-jury indictment.
“The Hutaree’s enemies include state and local law enforcement, who are deemed ‘foot soldiers’ of the federal government, federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the ‘New World Order,’ and anyone who does not share in the Hutaree’s beliefs,” the indictment states.
Prosecutors say Hutaree members engaged in military-style training, including “firearms and explosives training, weapons proficiency drills, patrolling and reconnaissance exercises, close-quarter battle drills, and ‘man-down’ drills.” They also “prepared defensive fighting positions, ambush kill zones, and storage bunkers,” according to the indictment.
Defense attorneys dismissed the taped conversations as “fantasy and empty, inane bluster.”
“It seems to me the government is playing games at this point,” attorney Mark Satawa told The Detroit News. “It’s unfortunate the government is such sore losers,” he said. Satawa is representing defendant Michael Meeks.
The 6th Circuit’s stay means the militia members will not be released before Friday.
The defendants have been charged with seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Defendants are Stone Sr.; his wife, Tina Stone, 44, and his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, both of Clayton; his adopted son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield; Meeks, 40, of Manchester; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.