Militia Trial – FBI Informant Bill Fulton Speaks
Next up for the defense: Bill Fulton
This is the one I’d been hoping for. Insider turned state’s evidence for immunity Michael Anderson, FBI informant for leniency in another case JR Olson, and FBI informant Bill Fulton were the three big witnesses for the prosecution. Or so we thought. It turned out that the prosecution did not call Fulton as a witness. This seemed rather odd. Why not call your own informant as a witness?
There were disturbing tales of Fulton’s behavior. Nobody seemed to like him. He was described as abrasive, a drunkard, nasty, violent and mean. Michael Anderson in particular seemed to detest Fulton. Granted, the people you were informing on probably aren’t going to like you much, but Anderson seemed to have good reason, even before he knew Fulton was a government informant. He told of a meeting in a hotel room in Fairbanks when Fulton seemed obsessed with getting someone to talk about “the plan” to kill judges and other government employees. He recounted a tale of Fulton lunging at Les Zerbe (second in command under Cox in the Alaska Peacemakers Militia) with a knife, and threatening to ‘slit his fucking throat’ if he didn’t come up with a plan. This doesn’t seem like behavior befitting an informant, and I was eager to hear what Fulton had to say for himself, if the defense called him as a witness. They did. And today was the day.
Pop some corn and get ready for the ride, kids.
Les Zerbe was actually the witness who testified right before Fulton, and suffice it to say he was not a fan either. After testifying about Fulton’s assault (which I’ll talk about later), he planted himself in the seats, hoping to catch Fulton’s testimony. No dice.
Mr. Zerbe was asked to leave by federal prosecutor Steve Skrocki, and Judge Bryan. Witnesses are not permitted in the courtroom until their testimony is totally complete, including any rebuttal testimony they may be asked for. Zerbe left, looking unhappy.
Bill Fulton entered the courtroom in a charcoal grey suit, a crisp white shirt and a blue tie. His hair was close cropped in a military-esque style. Last time we saw Fulton, it was from the back on a video surveillance tape made in his hotel room. Then, he wore a black jacket that said “We do bad things to bad people. Drop Zone, Anchorage Alaska.”
Today, he has scrubbed up very well.
Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox is the first to question him.
(I’ll put all questions from attorneys, and answers from Fulton in pairs.)
Were you ever in a meeting with the government regarding Schaeffer Cox?
Do you work for the government?
I still provide services for the government, yes Sir.
(Oh, really… The plot thickens.)
Were you getting paid?
I was being reimbursed for the money that I spent – hotel, fuel, things like that, Sir.
Was Drop Zone operating in 2010?
Do you know Aaron Bennett?
Yes I do, Sir.
(Fulton’s f-bombs seem to have been replaced with Sirs.)
In June 2010, were you asked to work for the government in an investigation of Francis Schaeffer Cox?
I was asked to meet with him.
Who was the agent supervising you?
Special Agent Sandra Klein.
Did you have any discussions on this case with other agents?
Yes. Special Agent Derek Esplund, and I saw another special agent that I don’t know his name, one of the mornings later.
When you were asked to meet with Schaeffer Cox in summer 2010, would that be June?
I don’t know exactly.
Were you part of any militia movement in summer 2010?
I had many associates among the militia movement. I myself was not a part.
When you were asked to meet with Mr. Cox what was the purpose?
He wanted us to serve some warrants for him, and he wanted us to come up to Fairbanks to do that for him. I was already planning on going for a sale in Mr. Bennett’s store (Far North Tactical).
What prompted you to work for the government?
For the FBI, or initially?
Let’s start with initially.
I was in the army quite young. I swore to uphold the Constitution, and protect the country from all enemies foreign and domestic. I was in the army from 1992 to 2000. I left as an E4.
What about as an informant? When were you first asked?
5 or 6 years before. I was in the Criminal Investigation Division of the US Army.
Were you an informant for them as well?
Yes sir, I was.
Was there any time from when you exited the army in 2000 to present, when you were not an informant?
A couple years, Sir.
Have you worked for other government agencies?
I provided information for other government agencies.
Is there any criminal prosecution that you struck a deal… or potential crime for which you struck a deal?
In 2010 you met with Mr. Cox?
While I came to Fairbanks to attend Aaron Bennett’s event, I was going to meet with Mr. Cox about serving warrants. We had a meeting at Blondie’s (also known as Far North Tactical) the night after meeting with Mr. Cox. There were two meetings. The first was at Pike’s Landing.
Did you go there by yourself?
No, I brought someone who works for me.
Were you supervised by a federal agent at that time?
What was the purpose of calling him?
To find out whether we were going to meet or not.
Did you discuss a plan about starting some engagement?
Mr. Cox brought up what he wanted us to do. We did fugitive recovery for Drop Zone so we were well versed in serving warrants. They wanted to do this for some common law court… something about his son and the office of child protective services. One of my taskings was to find out if there was a plan – when they wanted us to execute these warrants, and what they were going to do afterward.
There was no talk of over throwing the government or (…)
There was I think once or twice during the evening.
Who else was there?
Les Zerbe was there, and later he was joined by Jeramy Baker.
Did you say something about assets (men) coming up and sending men up?
That was the next day at Blondie’s, not Pike’s.
When you went to Blondie’s, what was the purpose there?
After our meeting the previous evening, I was concerned about an imminent event happening. Aaron Bennett had scheduled the meeting at Blondie’s with the rest of the patriot community up there at the time. It was to figure out what Schaeffer Cox was doing.
Can you clarify?
What was going on with these warrants, and whether he wanted us to execute warrants, when , what exactly would happen, how much support he was expecting…
I was there in the very morning. That was the day of the show.
Was there something else going on? Some event?
I have no idea. I was invited there to sell stuff for my store. Aaron Bennett had something going on, but I was there to sell equipment. Schaeffer was there. We all expected him to be there. He was hour – an hour and a half late.
You prearranged the meeting?
I believe Aaron did.
When you had this meeting, you’re waiting for Mr. Cox to show up in the evening. Were you talking about him?
Overall was it in a negative or positive light?
No idea – my vote would probably be negative.
What did you talk about?
I don’t recall exactly. It was the fact… at that point I was worried enough from the conversation we’d had the night before, I was concerned about other groups getting involved, going out and hanging people. Just in regard to himself and not the movement as a whole. I discovered he didn’t actually have the resources he’d been telling everyone he had.
There was also a split in the patriot movement – Schaeffer’s group was different from others?
Did you understand the Alaska Peacemakers militia motto? (Defend all, Aggress none).
I understood the motto, but that had nothing to do with what Schaeffer was about.
I know he was planning on arresting judges, and putting them on trial, and hanging them.
What did you say?
I told them I would support Schaeffer if he decided to.
Did you talk about money and assets (…)
No sir, that’s not what I said.
OK… so when you were there did Schaeffer show up?
Schaeffer began… Schaeffer likes to talk a lot, so he began one of his normal Schaeffer speeches. Most of us had had enough of his speeches, and we didn’t need to hear it again. He wasn’t talking about what we were talking about the night before.
Did you express frustration about him not wanting to go to war and him wanting (…) over Seth?
(I should mention here that Les Zerbe who had just testified, said that he suspected the meeting with Fulton of being a set up)
Zerbe was questioning my integrity. This was my first assignment with my role I’d assumed with the FBI, and I was in a room full of people who would kill me if they knew who I was. I felt I had moments to deal with it before bad things would happen to me.
Did you ask if he had a plan?
He said he didn’t have a plan?
No I hadn’t gotten a full plan out. We’d talked about it the evening before, and I told them that we’d be willing to help, but I needed a solidified plan.
Regular service of warrants, or confrontation with the government.
The service of warrants was a catalyst for confrontation with the government.
Did you get into an altercation with Mr. Zerbe?
Just verbal. Aaron Bennett was standing in between us. I may have moved toward him. It was controlled as much as possible to make it look real.
Who controlled it?
I did myself. That’s why Aaron Bennett was in between us.
Had you concocted this plan with Aaron Bennett?
No, this was on my own.
Did you ever say anything about wanting to cut someone’s throat?
That was Les Zerbe.
Was that at the militia conference?
That was at Blondie’s.
Was that in conjunction with the verbal altercation?
That was the altercation.
Did you carry a knife or a gun?
I didn’t want to cut his throat.
Did you have a knife?
Which hand did you carry it in?
My right hand.
Did Francis Schaeffer Cox or Les Zerbe tell you they didn’t have a plan?
By the time that meeting ended, yes sir.
Were you drinking Mr. Fulton?
We all were, Sir.
Mr. Cox was drinking?
The night before he was.
I’m talking about Blondie’s.
I don’t recall.
When was this meeting?
In the evening about 6-7 o’clock.
Have you ever testified in court before?
How many times have you met with the FBI?
I met with the primary and secondary agents probably 30 times.
In conjunction with activity that was going to happen in Fairbanks?
No that was in conjunction with the whole case – Before Blondies’ after Blondie’s -30 times in a one year period.
You had 30 meetings and you don’t know their plan?
I don’t know what their plan was.
After the Millenium Hotel there was nothing else asked from you?
I was to continue collecting intelligence…
Did you carry your own recording device, or the FBI’s?
My own at Pike’s place.
Did you have a recording device at the Millenium hotel?
The FBI did.
When you were having these 30 or so meetings, did they explain what they were trying to do?
You were in a total vacuum about that?
After Blondie’s and between that in June of 2010, and the convention in February of 2011 how may meetings did you have with the FBI about Schaeffer Cox?
Probably 20 where he was mentioned – not actually regarding him – 20 where he was mentioned.
What did they discuss? Was there a common factor?
It was always ‘What have you heard? Have you been told anything?’ The … with the FBI regarding what they were planning on doing was very 1 sided. They didn’t brief me. I was just providing information.
When I would get a phone call, and talk about whether he was going to court, things like that, contacts.
What happened at the other 17 meetings?
These were about other intelligence matters where Cox would come up.
Were you doing work in Anchorage or Fairbanks?
Most of the time in Anchorage, except for that one weekend in Fairbanks.
What did you do there?
I set up a weapons deal for him and his boys at the Millenium hotel at the militia conference. I was going to deliver those weapons.
Were you even contacted by the FBI in Fairbanks, other than FBI in Anchorage?
I have no idea. I was contacted quite a bit.
Were you contacted by Agent Sutherland?
The morning of the arrest.
Not before then?
I don’t’ think so, but I had a lot of contacts.
Were you a licensed dealer of guns and weaponry?
Did you ever hold yourself out to be a dealer?
You didn’t tell anyone you had a shop you could do this from?
Your store doesn’t sell firearms?
Did you have access to them?
Yes, the other sides of the business – fugitive recovery and security.
Did you sell component parts… (for automatic weapons).
We provided everything but the receiver.
Do you know a Jesus or Kyle Brown?
Working for the government?
No, working for me.
Does the IACC (Interior Alaska Conservative Coalition) ring a bell?
(I missed the answer, but I think he said yes.)
Have you worked as a security detail for any politician?
Mr. Joe Miller and Mr. Eddie Burke.
(Joe Miller was the Republican candidate for Senate in 2010, and Eddie Burke was a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor)
Were you working for them at the same time as you were a government informant?
When you were at Pike’s, were you directed to record that event?
But you recorded it yourself?
Yes, Sir. I wasn’t directed not to.
And when you were at Blondie’s did you?
Were you directed?
The only thing you’re aware of at the meeting at Blondie’s is because he had warrants he wanted you to serve, and it would create some kind of conflict?
I didn’t want to do any of that.
What about the warrants?
I said I would do them for him.
Were you trying to get him into a confrontation with the government on his own?
You were trying to say we don’t want a war, we don’t want any problem – for the government?
How much did you get reimbursed?
The total for the whole thing was about $39,000.
And your expenses for food, hotel were taken care of too?
Did they help you out with relocation afterwards?
I believe they gave us $20,000 for relocation. Our total was $134,000 that we haven’t been reimbursed for.
Have you been investigated for impersonating an FBI officer?
(Mr. Skrocki objects and says it mischaracterizes the incident)
Was there some report?
There were allegations that were shown to be unfounded.
They asked you questions about that?
What happened to the Pike’s landing recording?
I destroyed it. I had already provided it to the FBI.
So you gave it to the FBI?
I made it available to them.
How much did you know about the Alaska Peacemakers Militia in Fairbanks?
Not much, Sir.
There were some contact with the militia movement in your store?
I had contacts all over the state.
Who sponsored the militia convention?
David Luntz and myself, Sir.
You coordinated the invitation to the militias?
That was Mr. Luntz.
How many went?
Is there a militia in Anchorage?
I have no idea.
“You have no idea,” said Traverso incredulously. (I was thinking the same thing.)
You were reimbursed $39,000. Was that by the FBI?
I believe so, Sir.
How many hours do you think you worked for the FBI regarding Mr. Cox?
Hundreds? 1000? 2000?
I didn’t keep a time card, Sir. I worked whenever I needed to.
How were you reimbursed?
For the money I spent out of pocket, not for my time. There were other associated costs – time away from my business… I never made a cent. They asked me as the investigation came to a close, they asked me what I thought it had cost me, so I put forward to them what I thought it had cost me.
Were you also reimbursed for putting up the militia convention?
You came up in the red, then?
All this time there was no agreement not to prosecute you for something? You had no other reason than that.
No, sir. No.
Did you sell at the Drop Zone hornets nests, and CS canisters?
I think we might have sold a couple over the years.
Did you have any contact with JR Olson?
I met him at the Millenium meeting, and the net time I saw him was the morning of the arrest.
So from February 5 to March 10, you never had contact?
Maybe phone calls, but that’s the only face-to-face.
What would you do with Mr. Cox? Phone calls, text, gathering information?
Phone calls, emails, text messages, newspaper articles, comments on articles when his guys would come down and buy stuff from the store and talk. I think I reported on some of that. Pretty much everything he was involved in.
Were you putting on a certain air – kind of taking control of the situation when you were meeting with Mr. Vernon and Mr. Barney?
I don’t believe so sir.
You were a good actor?
I was trying not to get shot, Sir.
You checked them out to see if they were packing?
I asked them.
You were warning them not to talk about certain things – grenades? Launchers?
I believe it was grenades, and I didn’t want them getting real ones from someone else.
When did you first meet Mr. Cox?
At the 2008 Republican convention, Sir. I was introduced to Mr. Cox by Joe Miller and Frank Bailey in my hotel room. We were having a meeting on a strategy session for the next day.
Joe Miller, the ex-candidate Joe Miller?
(And for those of you wondering, yes that Frank Bailey. Small world.)
When was the next time you saw Mr. Cox after that meeting at the Republican convention?
The next morning.
I just said hi.
From that moment on, when was the next time?
I believe at the end of the convention.
No further questions.
(I look around the room and I notice that there seems to be a lot more media here today. KTUU TV is represented, and several others with notepads I don’t recognize. There are also a couple attorneys who were in the building who have come to see this testimony. There are a total of 26 people in the gallery.)
Tim Dooley for Coleman Barney is next.
While you were at Blondie’s in Fairbanks, you asked Mr. Zerbe whether or not they had a plan, correct?
Yes. It was in relation to the conversation we’d had the night before (at Pike’s).
And they said they had no plan.
And you pretended to be upset about that?
And you said you had men and supplies coming to support them with their plan?
(I think he said yes.)
No further questions.
MJ Haden for Lonnie Vernon has no questions.
Mr. Skrocki for the government now cross-examines the government informant.
You were asked a lot of questions about your part at this sale for Far North Tactical (Blondie’s).
You went up there at the direction of the FBI, yes?
I was going anyway.
So it was a combination of the two.
You were asked to listen and participate?
Do you know Les Zerbe?
I didn’t before that day.
You were around folks carrying firearms?
There were firearms, yes.
You had a verbal confrontation with Les Zerbe?
You made a move toward him?
You were concerned that you would be ferreted out?
Did you know Zerbe thought you were (an informant)?
Not at the time. I’m glad I did it now, sir.
Face to face, how many hours did you spend with Schaeffer Cox? The total over this whole thing.
5 or 6 hours face to face.
On the phone?
A couple hours.
I don’t send them that often – maybe one or two.
How many texts on that document? (He references a print out of texts between Cox and Fulton on the screen)
How did you come to work for the FBI?
While working for the other federal agency I came across an intelligence matter that was in the FBI’s area of expertise, and I was referred to them. We had established a relationship, and I told them I knew Mr. Cox a little bit through the store, and they asked me to head up to Fairbanks and see what was going on.
You were given information about warrants?
You operate a fugitive recovery business. Did you ever hear of a warrant like the one he wanted you to serve?
Did you have concerns?
On a personal level?
Yes. I’ve learned about the sovereign citizen ideology now, but I had never been exposed to it before that event. Here’s a guy saying he’s gotten together with his friends and created warrants, and he wants us to go arrest judges and others associated with the court. Personally, I was scared.
Had you ever heard about that before?
Planning arrest warrants and what to do with them afterwards – is that part of the equation? Arrest judges and what to do with them afterwards?
You were pushing about information regarding what they were going to do with them afterwards?
I was told they would be tried and fined, or hung, Sir.
During course of your work with the FBI on Mr. Cox’s investigation, did you have any negative interaction?
What was the tenor and tone of your conversations?
He was always very cordial.
(Did he mention anything about how you were to treat Vernon and Olson?)
I was to treat them as I would treat him and they were there with full authority and representation.
They wanted grenade bodies?
Not just grenade bodies – silencers for XD pistols, grenade bodies, grenade fuses, c4, there was some talk of automatic weapons. That’s all I can remember off the top of my head.
Describe your meeting Lonnie Vernon.
He walked into my store and said, “I need some grenades!”… Sir.
How much time had transpired?
About 5 seconds.
You guys talk a lot about that?
Yes, we did.
That’s all I have. Thank you, Mr. Fulton.
Nelson Traverso is back.
Between June of 2010 and February 5, did you have any in-person contact with Mr. Cox?
Not that I recall, sir.
Do you have a copy of these warrants that you said Cox created to serve on those judges?
Did you ever have a copy of those warrants?
And you recorded that meeting, and then destroyed that recording?
Tim Dooley is next.
Have you ever seen Coleman Barney?
Talked to Coleman Barney?
MJ Haden for Lonnie Vernon has no questions.
Mr. Fulton is excused.
He and his crisp white shirt, his blue tie, and his flag pin walk down the aisle, out of the gallery, through the double doors, and back into the unknown.
Mr. Fulton has not been the loudmouthed, obnoxious, in it for the money, overreaching, plea bargaining lout the defense had hoped for. It has been a day of surprises and revelations.