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Militia Trial: Insider Witness Surprises

Michael Orion Anderson is on the stand when I arrive in court at the 2-4-1 Militia Trial, also known as the US vs. Scheaffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon. Anderson is the “insider” that the prosecution promised to produce for the jury in their opening statement. But what we learn from Anderson doesn’t quite live up to the previews. It’s not that his testimony isn’t dramatic or compelling. It’s that and more – a desperate suicide attempt in prison, destroying a hard drive with a hammer, a first person account of an enraged FBI informant threatening to slit the throat of a militia member- but Anderson does not paint a picture of Cox as a rabid, violent revolutionary, ready to overthrow the government. And, Anderson himself takes the blame for initiating the research of the only federal official on the “Federal Hit List” found in his possession, which he says Cox knew nothing about, and which was referenced in the prosecution’s opening remarks.

According to his account of the infamous meeting with FBI informant Bill Fulton, there appeared to be no “plan” to kill federal judges, or anyone. His testimony does, however, reveal Cox’s desire to obtain the addresses of several State Troopers, an OCS worker involved in the domestic violence case against him, and a TSA Agent he knows from church whom he characterizes as “a nice lady” but says she may “have to go.”  Anderson has received full immunity from the government in exchange for his fascinating and unexpected testimony.

Anderson looks the part of a computer nerd, which is what he was supposed to be in the organization. His voice sounds youngish. He is 36, but appears younger. He’s wearing a periwinkle shirt with white buttons and a solid white collar.

Anderson met Cox when they were delegates at the 2008 Alaska Republican Convention, and they started spending time together when Anderson was laid off from his job in 2009 and began working construction and landscaping jobs with Cox.

Asked what he and Cox talked about, Anderson said that it was largely “general concern of economic collapse, (with) ensuing marshal law as a possibility,” he said. “We would want to be able to protect ourselves rather than just lay down and let it happen.”

The prosecution is questioning him.  They are looking at a sheet of paper on the screen that shows what assignments the “commanding officer” Schaeffer Cox is assigning to members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. It begins:

“I am the commanding officer” (…)

Les, and Bill, I would like you to be field officers and start out each in command of a company 30 men.

Mike and Dave, I would like you to be in a special tech/indirect warfare team that would probably be in Unit 2.

“Is that you?  The Mike?” asks federal prosecutor Steve Skrocki.

“Yes, I believe so. Schaeffer was interested in having me build electronic jammers, cell phone, and GPS jammers. Tech warfare stuff. That’s what he was interested in. I never answered him.”

Steve, I would like you to stay very low profile and serve mostly as a PR man and also give specialized counter-intelligence training to the men as needed.

Philip and Isaac, you can be privates in units 3 and 4 respectively.

Josiah, soon you will be old enough to be a part of the militia without the public criticizing us for having (members that are too young). (…)

Signed Schaeffer Cox

Anderson doesn’t know who Steve is, and the others aren’t mentioned.

The discussion turns to Aaron Bennet, the owner of Far North Tactical in Fairbanks (formerly Blondie’s Gun Shop), a military supply and tactical store, who has been mentioned before in the trial.

“He had a friend coming – a congressman from Montana,” said Anderson. “Schaeffer wanted to go look at stuff in his store. Bennett was the store owner, that’s when we talked.”

Cox is scowling darkly as he listens to Anderson’s testimony. By the end of it, however, his face had softened a lot, and he even grins on occasion as you will see.

Anderson recounted his meeting with Bennett:

“It was in late July or early August of 2010 and I was assisting with a hot dog stand for a fundraiser that was at Far North Tactical’s new location. They had a Grand Opening. I was involved to set up a fundraiser and I was asked to assist. Bennett was there and his employees, and Bill Fulton was there, and customers. That was the only time I’ve met Bill Fulton. He ran a local gun store down here in Anchorage, (Drop Zone) and he was a friend of Aaron Bennett’s.”

Steve Skrocki asks Anderson to describe Bill Fulton for the court. Bill Fulton, as you may remember, is the guy who was working on Joe Miller’s security detail, and detained Anchorage journalist Tony Hopfinger. That guy. In this case, he is also an FBI informant. Anderson did not mince words.

FBI Informant Bill Fulton - Photo: Alaska Dispatch

“I found him to be extremely gruff – a fat drunkard, rude and extremely violent. He was invited there by Aaron Bennett, and was there to sell some goods. He brought goods to sell. I don’t know if he had guns there or not. Fulton had invited us to get together that evening and said Schaeffer had some idea, or some plan he wanted to tell us about. That’s what we were told. I came to the meeting to hear Schaeffer’s plan. I was already there so I figured I’d go.

“We got there 20-30 minutes into it, and  Schaeffer still hadn’t shown up. It was either Bill Fulton who called, or Aaron Bennett called him. Schaeffer was out doing some errands. He said, “Schaeffer, get down here we’re all waiting for you!” (Didn’t make out the name) showed up, Schaeffer’s 2nd in command. And then Schaeffer comes in with his 2-year old boy.”

“Is this the same time he’s having issues with the state court system?” Skrocki asks.

“Yes. And he comes in and acts a little confused as to why he’s there. Bill Fulton asked him what the plan was that we’re here to hear about. Schaeffer talks for a while about how he’s being railroaded by the Court System and his philosophy. So, Fulton prods him, ‘Schaeffer, tell us why we’re here, and why you’re here.’ Then Schaeffer talks about filing paperwork in the court system. But this is not what Fulton wanted to hear. He said, ‘Not that! What we talked about!’

“He wants to know what the plan is, and keeps asking about the plan. So Schaeffer went into a generalized idea about that we’re going to arrest justices and put them on trial before his hearing. He didn’t say for what, exactly. This was on a Sunday and his court hearing was supposed to be on a Thursday. I was jut finding this out. So the idea was to arrest judges and put them on trial before the hearing. Bill Fulton wanted to hear what the actual plan was. ‘How are you going to do this?’

“Well, we could bury some Conexes (storage units), put them on trial…” (I have no idea what was meant by this, or who said it.)

‘How are we going to do this?’ Fulton kept asking.  Les Zirby pipes up – ‘There is no plan. We have no plan to do this!’ I don’t remember whether Fulton actually pulled out a knife, I think he did, but I can’t say it firmly. But I distinctly remember him lunging at Zirby saying, (And here, Anderson who had been very soft-spoken and measured, raised his voice and got really scary sounding.) “No Plan?! What do you mean you have no plan?! You’re supposed to have a plan! THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT! I’M GONNA SLIT YOUR THROAT! You’re supposed to have a plan!”

I think I got most of that right, but it was very alarming in the court room, and it distracted me from my typing. In any case, you get the idea. The important parts are verbatim.

~Eerily lifelike rendering of Michael Anderson 

“Things finally calmed down after a couple minutes of this,” Anderson continued.

“’We don’t have logistics.’ (I think he said Cox said this. Then Anderson imitated Fulton again, in a shouting voice) ‘What do you mean we don’t have logistics?! I spent $30,000 to get men and equipment up here! You want me to send them away!?’

“So Schaeffer says, ‘I’ve never been in a fight in my life. I’ve never even punched someone in the nose, and I don’t want to start now.’ And Fulton says, ‘So do you want me to call it off?’ And Schaeffer says, ‘Yes, call it off.’”

“The plan of arresting judges – it never got into an actual worked out plan,” Anderson said of the meeting. “The whole thing was really strange. Finally the whole thing ended. Bill Fulton said he was going to go to a bar, get drunk and beat up some soldiers.”

“That was your only exposure to Bill Fulton?” asked Skrocki

“Yes, thank God,” said Anderson, and really sounded like he meant it.

I was left feeling like Anderson was not the slam-dunk witness for the prosecution we were led to believe in the beginning. It also makes you wish Bill Fulton had managed to get on trial for something instead of being in the witness protection program. The prosecution has no plans to call Fulton to the witness stand, either. But they did call Anderson, and they will call their other informant JR Olson. Why not Fulton? Clearly, from Anderson’s testimony, Fulton and Cox had a conversation that would be of relevance. (“Not that! What we talked about!) Curious.

“Did Mr. Cox ask you to do something for him when he had issues with the state case concerning his wife?” Skrocki asked.

Anderson clarified that he was talking about the domestic violence case against Cox when he was arrested for assaulting his wife while driving.

“Just the organizing of the meeting so he could tell people his story. The judge had ordered him not to have any weapons in his house, so several days after he was arrested he asked if I could hold them for him. His attorney was there, and I picked up his weapons and stored them for him.

“I saw a bunch of rifles – 20-25 rifles, hand guns, a bunch of ammo, at least one tactical vest, a homemade gun, some empty grenade bodies attached to the tactical vest.”

Boxes were brought to the witness stand, and also the white bucket with green spray paint from earlier, that was full of grenade bodies.

Anderson was given rubber gloves to put on.

He took the gun out of the box, and identified it as one of the guns he took from Cox’s house. “Schaeffer said it was a homemade automatic. He said he had built it himself.” Next, came a .22 and a silencer. “The silencer was at the bottom of a duffel bag of guns he’d given me.” Anderson had found it because he was curious and had rummaged around in the duffel bag.

MJ Haden objects to calling it a “silencer.”

“With respect to the item attached to the end of that pistol, was it attached to anything at the time?”

“No,” said Anderson.

“When you saw it did you understand the intent of what it was?” asked Skrocki. “Yes, I understood the intent,” said Anderson. He went on.

“There were five to ten grenade bodies attached to a tactical vest. I remember they were attached. I put them all in my tool shed behind my house. There was a 30 caliber 1919 – a Browning, and a couple of semi-automatics, some ARs and a couple AKs, and a couple hunting rifles and hand guns. They were at my home about 2 months.  Schaeffer came by and picked them up a couple months after I took them from him.”

“Did you do other things for him?” queried Skrocki.

“Yeah. One day he called up and was going to have a meeting with the OCS officer and it was going to be at his father’s church. It was spring or summer 2010. Schaeffer called me the night before the special meeting and asked if I’d be part of a security team to help him get away if they tried to take his son. It was at the Baptist church. Zirby was supposed to be there as well. He never showed.

“Schaeffer wanted me to show up half an hour beforehand so we could have breakfast and talk about it. Wendy Williams was the OCS officer in charge of the case. I didn’t make it to the pre-meeting. That morning I threw a tactical vest and an AK in the back of the car, and about a mile or two from the house I started thinking, ‘Why do I  have this crap in the back of my car?’ But I went, and Schaeffer went in. I thought, ‘I’m here… I’m not going to do anything, but I’ll see how it goes for him.’ Eventually Schaeffer walked out and left, and I left and went about my business.”

“Your house was searched by law enforcement and items were seized from your home?” asked Skrocki.


Shown on the screen are pictures taken during the raid of  Anderson’s home.

  • The AK47 firearm that he put in back of the car for security detail
  • A wood stove, on right side a pouch with AK47 magazine
  • The same pouch with clips that fit in AK. He took one clip with him on that day, but there were 5 in the picture.
  • A ‘flak vest, technically’ he says. It’s just made of Kevlar
  • A desert camo vest – fabric vest with pockets for ceramic plates

A box is taken to him containing the tactical vests and a helmet belonging to Anderson. He didn’t take the helmet because he didn’t have it then. He made several references to things he “didn’t have then” leading us to believe that he’s increased his collection of arms and related items since the time he’s being questioned about.

The questioning now turned to the OCS employee that Cox had issue with. “Schaeffer wanted to know where Wendy Williams lived so he could go talk to her,” said Anderson, so he started to look up her address. “I couldn’t figure it out, so I took one of the potential addresses, drove by the house and snapped a picture of the license plate. I was going to run it through the DMV, but it doesn’t work like that. So I just deleted the picture. I don’t know if it was actually her house or not.”

There is then shown on the screen an image of a piece of paper with 2 Wendy Williamses on it, and what looks like the preliminary results of a Google search – age, cities with addresses, relatives. One has a lot and block number, and a street name. Anderson says it’s from a public records search, and he thinks that’s the house he drove by but he’s not sure.

Cox asked him about it and, “I told him I hadn’t found it yet. He said that he needed to know where she was because ‘if she hurt his family, she might get a bullet through her windshield.’”


The woman from yesterday is reading the Bible again.

Anderson is back and still under oath. Cox contacted him about a couple other things. He told Anderson,“I need names of Federal Marshals,” because he was trying to figure out who might be after him – a possible lead to find out who they are.

He talks about notes on a paper entered into evidence. It’s a short list.

Paperwork from Vernons? – (Can’t remember what that’s about.)

SWAT? – (Again, had to do with who could be after Schaeffer.)

Gary Tolop – (A trooper that lived two houses up the road from Schaeffer. “He thought he was maybe sorta OK, but called him ‘Trooper Butthole.’ Cox is trying only semi-successfully to suppress a grin at the mention of “Trooper Butthole.” He looks like a kid in the back of the class. “He was giving me some names to get started with on the whole database thing because I didn’t know how to start.”)

The letters ‘Bu’ scribbled out – (Was going to be Burt Barrick… Schaeffer ran into him. I never heard his name before, so I scribbled it out. I never went back to it. He’s a Trooper Captain in Fairbanks.)

Ron Wall – (Cox gave him the name. Trooper Lieutenant in Fairbanks.)

Cox appears to be deep in thought throughout this, and is actually sitting with his hand under his chin, like Rodin’s Thinker.

Lonnie Vernon has his chin resting on interlaced fingers. His eyes are closed and his eyebrows raised.

Anderson suggested to Cox that he could stake out the federal building to see who might be following him, and snap pictures of license plates.  There is a rudimentary diagram of the Federal Building in Fairbanks, drawn by Anderson.

~Copy of Anderson’s sketch of the Federal Building in Fairbanks

He says the dots represent foliage. The lines represent spaces in the parking lot. Cox gave a speech at a Tea Party rally about some letter he delivered to Mark Begich’s office. This was the Spring of 2009. “I said you can set up a camera behind the parking garage to see what cars are going in.”

Next up is another piece of paper with hand written notes:

3 of them – Curtis female  DHS, border control

Tom Stedler DHS

Anderson doesn’t remember what Cox said about them. He couldn’t remember Curtis’ first name. Anderson was not given a reason for why Cox wanted information on them.

Trina Bowcamp TSA

She is a TSA trainer whom Anderson never met. Cox said she was someone he knew. “He said ‘She goes to my church. She’s a nice lady, but some day she may just follow orders, and she may have to go.’

“Schaeffer and I had met, and he asked how it was going with the whole database thing and also talked to me about that he thought there was a hit team out to get him. He thought the feds had sent a hit team after him and he wanted to know who they might be and where they might be.”

Anderson knows the Vernons through IACC (The Interior Alaska Conservative Coalition) and some of the work Schaeffer has done. And he has seen them at the Second Amendment Task Force. Schaeffer gave him the phone numbers at the top of the page, but he doesn’t remember why. He did no research on any of the names.

Next is a sheet with lots of mathematical calculations and formulas. Anderson explains they are calculations of air flow. They don’t appear to be related to the case. On the right hand side of the page, scribbled in the margin it says “Ron Wall and Lawrence Piscoya.”

When asked why the names were on this particular page, Anderson says “maybe he called me up while I was working on it… I don’t know why it’s on this page.”

Next is an envelope containing a yellow notebook seized from Anderson’s residence.

He uses it for survey information for mining claims he was looking at. Anderson has worked as a mining engineer. Inside is written on one page at the top:

Federal Hit list:

Jimmy Johnson: Federal Marshal; Anc

This must be the “Federal Hit List” the prosecution talked about in their opening statement. There is nothing else on the page.

Anderson, when asked why he had written it, said, “After Schaeffer told me about the feds being after him, and through my own anger at the time, I started to look things up. I found [Johnson’s] name in a news article. I think it was about a drug case. I wrote that down, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to be that hateful. And I shut the book and never looked at it again.’

“It was out of my own anger and because of what was going on in Schaeffer’s life, or what I believed to be,” he reiterated. “I went to Google and I typed in Federal Marshal something or other. News articles popped up and I found his name in a news article.”

Skrocki went on to the next subject. “Does the name Malik Jones mean anything to you?”

“Schaeffer called me about him once… I think in October 2010. One of Schaeffer’s friends had been picked up for an expired license plate near Cantwell. He was arrested, and the passenger was left there not knowing where the person arrested was going to. Schaeffer wanted to know where (Jones) was based so he could go bail the guy out.”

“What about David Roener?”

“I shook his hand once, but don’t know … it was at one of Schaeffer’s sovereignty groups… Alaska Assembly post meetings. It’s the only one I ever went to.

“Schaeffer called me up and asked where the guy (Roener) worked. I remember looking at the executive and judicial salary list. That lists the town the person works in. I told him he worked in Fairbanks. I don’t remember looking up the lot and block number, but it’s there.” He shrugged.

Malik Jones’ full address with zip code is there, plus the subdivision, block number and lot number of the residence in North Pole. It also says “Former Army.”

The name of Officer John Marion comes up.

“He pulled me over for an expired plate, and left me in a parking lot at 30 below. I looked him up and was going to leave a nasty-gram in his mailbox but I never did.”

He got to know Coleman Barney in jail. He first met him only a few days before the arrest.

Next, a document is put up on the screen.

“In the matter of Seth Cox.” The name highlighted is Wendy Williams, the OCS worker. It is an affidavit from her, with large portions redacted.

We find out that Anderson spent 8 months in jail in connection with the charges. At first, he was put in “segregation” for 30 days, which he describes as “a small cell by myself.”

“Was that difficult for you?” Skrocki asked.

“Yes. I had just been charged with conspiracy to murder someone I thought was Schaeffer’s friend, and a judge I’d never heard of before. I wondered how I’m going to prove my innocence. What was Schaeffer up to? How was I going to get my family through this? I thought they’d be better off if they didn’t have to live with this at all.”

“Did you try to take your own life?” Skrocki asked.

He said yes, he had. As he went on, you could hear his throat tighten up. He did not cry, but it was clear it was emotional for him to talk about it. “I chewed the guard off my glasses. In the cell was a bench with a pivot, moving parts, and I squeezed it to a sharp point. I sat with my back to the camera, and I started to slit my wrist. It wasn’t very sharp. It was more like digging away at chunks of flesh. I did that for several minutes, unsuccessfully. I looked at the floor, with blood dripping on the floor. I closed my eyes, and all I saw was a black frame with flames. And I thought, ‘I’ll have to get through this somehow.’

He described how the wound got infected and he had to open it up to drain it and clean it out, and he used cotton batting of some kind to dress it. “The guard saw the blood and they placed me on suicide watch.”

He didn’t have much contact with Cox after the Bill Fulton incident in the hotel room. He saw him 3 or 4 times, and they talked on the phone once or twice a month. He said he didn’t know what he was doing… “just sovereignty redemption stuff in the courts.” He remembered something he heard Cox say that he said made him cringe. “I remember he said ‘We have the troopers outnumbered and outgunned and could have them all dead in one night, but we don’t want that. We want to live in peace.’ He said that to the judge.”

“Did you have anyone to help you in jail after the incident?” Skrocki asked. “A mental health worker came by a week later. She interviewed me.” He did not look impressed. When he asked how he was doing now, he said, “I’m doing fine now.”

“Did there come a time where people contacted you about your database?”

“Yeah. It shocked me. I didn’t know what was going on. All of a sudden this guy calls and asks me for it – JR Olson. Occasionally Schaeffer would call and ask how it was going but Olson was the one who called me. “ (Olson, and Fulton were the two government informants.)

“When you were in jail, what kind of interaction did you have with Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon?” Skrocki wanted to know.

“We would see each other in gym and at church.” He estimated they’d see each other about 5 times a week. It was pretty easy to have contact with them when they were allowed out, he said.

“Did you have discussions with them about your lawyer?”

“We talked about the possibility if my lawyer was federal agent under cover.” Anderson said he was wondering about it, and expressed that to Schaeffer. “He thought it was interesting and thought maybe that was the case. I didn’t trust him (the lawyer) at all, and considered he might be a federal agent.”

It wasn’t until after he was out of jail that those fears subsided.

Cox wanted him to write an affidavit about what was going on regarding his feelings about the attorney, Mr. Hertz. “…that Mr. Hertz was there to collect information about me to incriminate Schaeffer on another case. I took his advice and I wrote down my thoughts and had it notarized and gave it to Schaeffer. I had handwritten rough draft copies of it, but I threw them out when I left jail. Schaeffer said he was taking it to give to his attorney.”

Then he went on to tell a story about something they’d discussed in church while in prison. “In church, there was an article in the News Miner, with a large picture of the 22 with the homemade… ‘thing’ on the end of it.”

He was remembering Haden’s objection to calling it a silencer. Skrocki said he was free to call it what he thought it was.

“the…perhaps silencer on the end of it. He wanted people to sign it, because someone in his dorm wanted an autographed copy.” So Cox, Barney, Vernon, and Anderson all signed it.

Haden objects and says it’s irrelevant. The judge tells the jury that the exhibit  “is not offered for the truth of the information in the news article. You should not consider it for the truth of what is in the news article. It may be admitted.”

“You mentioned a JR Olson and that you were contacted, I think it was 2/13/11.”

“He wanted the database that I had started to put together. He said Schaeffer asked him to call. I called him back. He said, ‘Yeah, JR’s part of the militia.’ I don’t specifically remember if he said he told JR to call. I called Schaeffer and said, ‘I’d rather see you instead.’ He said OK. I haven’t met Olson to this day that I know of.”

He said that Karen Vernon had called him after that, and that she had just asked, “Do you have something for Schaeffer?”

“I got mad at her. I said I don’t, and he’s starting to piss me off.”

After that phone call Schaeffer came by Anderson’s house on March 7. It was Anderson’s first day at a new job, and he was at work. Cox left a phone number with his wife, and said Anderson should call it from an untapped phone line.

“I drove up to the Hilltop Truck Stop – a gas station about 7 miles from my house. We talked for 20 minutes or so. He talked about court paperwork and it became generalized discussion. He was talking about his trouble with the courts. I told him, everyone who does that sovereignty stuff ends up going to jail. He didn’t have the public following he did before. He should go back to the Liberty Bell. I talked to him about the importance of being non-violent. I just wanted to work for a while, make a bunch of money, and if the economy collapses I’ll have gold and silver to buy land, or leave the country.”

Then Cox asked him, “Do you have anything for me?” Anderson said, “Uh huh.”

“He was on the lamb at that point from his misdemeanor. He had skipped his court date for a Class B misdemeanor weapons case, and the judge had ordered a $7500 bond on him for failure to appear when he missed his court date. Then I asked him to meet me in town at a friend’s house. He showed up and Coleman Barney was with him.”

Lunch break

When we get back, and before the jury shows up, Judge Bryan says he’s just discovered that he’s held court in 36 different cities. “What do I get for that?” he joked. “Miles?” someone suggested as he got a golf clap from the room.

Anderson is back.

“You testified before federal grand jury. After your arrest in 2011, were you interviewed by law enforcement?” Skrocki asks.


“Sandy Klein of the FBI and Officer Meredith from the Fairbanks police did the interview.” he reminds Anderson.

“I was probably 80-85% truthful,” Anderson confesses. “I held some things back. A significant part was when I stated the information was never to be used for any violent purpose. The truth was, it was for a defensive violent purpose. And I stated I’d never worked on it, and that wasn’t true.

“On March 7th, Schaeffer came by my house, and left a note with my wife with a phone number to call. I drove to town, drove to gas station and told him I was coming to town and wanted to see him, and I drove into town. I arranged for the location of the meeting. Coleman drove him and was with him. Evening. I thought he was coming for the database but by that time I had already gotten rid of it and was trying to lure him in to talk to him. That was the first time I’d been able to get ahold of him for 3 weeks. I finally had contact and I wanted to see him. I gave him a perceived reason to meet with me so he’d be able to – obtaining the database I had no longer.

“I downloaded a program off the internet for wiping hard drives and I wiped all the information. I did it immediately after JR Olson had called me – within a day or so. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what Schaeffer was planning, and if he was planning Also if there was something going on, I didn’t’ want to be implicated in it.

“The program was Eraser, I think. I used it to wipe the hard drive. Later on I smashed it with a hammer. I put it on a concrete floor and I smashed it until little parts of it fell out. Then, I threw it in the trash.  At the very end of our meeting, I said, “oh by the way, I destroyed that thing. He didn’t say anything. His only reaction was a facial surprise.”

The prosecution is finished with Anderson.

Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox was up next.  “When you were in jail, you felt that you hadn’t done anything wrong. You couldn’t understand why you were in jail, correct?”


“When you were going through the distress, you met up with Schaeffer in the gym and church. Was he belligerent to you?”

“He was one of the reasons I got through it. He was great.”

Traverso smiles and nods. “When you and Schaeffer met, back in 2008, you guys had a lot of intellectual discussions about your political beliefs. Yours were different than his, but there were similarities. Did he ever talk to you about Gandhi – that he didn’t believe in violence?”

“Yes we had those discussions.”

“You don’t believe in violence, correct?”

“Correct. I have my moments of failing but… “

“You got angry.”

“More with just encounters I’d had with law enforcement, and encounters I’d heard of others having.”

“When you were discussing political beliefs, did he ever discuss with you that he should belong to an organization to overthrow the government?”

“For the purpose of overthrowing the government? No…  I would call myself a Constitutionalist. I believe that the government had grown too powerful, and at some point through its own corruption it would collapse upon itself. And we wait for that time, to rebuild.”

Traverso says that Cox (I think) had called Anderson an Anarchist. And then he asked, “Is that true?”

“It’s partially true. I consider myself an Anarchocapitalist. I believe that no group or person has the right to instill violence on another group of people. I consider government to be violent, and so I cannot support the government, as it exists today. I am opposed to violence, and taking down the government by violence is something I’m opposed to.”

“Did he ever espouse killing people to overthrow the government?”

“I wouldn’t say that specifically, no.”

“Did he ever talk about when the government collapsed that there would be a need for protection, using deadly force?” asked Traverso.

“Yes, we discussed that.”

“When there was martial law… when there’s just no control in the street, basically.”


“When you say that 85% of your interview with Officer Meredith from the Fairbanks police department, and FBI special agent Klein … that you were truthful 80% of the time…”

“That’s a guesstimate. I was trying to figure out what was going on. That’s why I was talking.”

“Schaeffer kind of had an unusual philosophy about his advocacy and with the 2nd Amendment Task Force, and Liberty Bell, he would engage the other side. He would go to a police officer if he had a dispute, right?”


“You said one time he had a dispute with a trooper and talked to him for 3 hours. He didn’t go with weaponry or rounds of clips or anything.”

Objection! Foundation.

“Are you aware of whether he would take armaments with him?” Traverso tried again.

Objection! Foundation. Sustained.

And again. “Was there a time you, Schaeffer and some other people from the 2nd Amendment Task Force talked to an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent? Did he take a gun with him?”


“Did you go through security? Were there two forms of security? Like here in the courthouse?”


“Did any guns or weaponry get revealed in that course of interaction?”

“Not that I am aware of.”

“You went to the ATF agent. What was the purpose of that meeting?”

“Schaeffer was delivering a document he had written up that a bunch of people had signed, espousing right to bear arms and other rights.”

“Did the subject of homemade weapons come up?”

Objection. Overruled.

Anderson answered, “I don’t remember that subject coming up. ATF was only concerned with interstate commerce.”


The judge says Anderson can testify as to what he heard, and he does.

“He said he was the only ATF agent north of Cantwell and was only concerned with weapons that traveled through interstate commerce, and was too busy to deal with anything else.”

“Do you have an association with Aaron Bennett?” (The owner of Far North Tactical)

“A friendship – not real good friends, but…  I attended some outings that he had. Basically we’d go out and play Airsoft.” 

“Did it come to your attention that Schaeffer Cox was afraid of Aaron Bennett at some point?”

“I knew that they didn’t like each other. But not that he was specifically afraid.”

“Was Bennett critical about how he conducted his militia activities? The APM Motto – Defend All, Aggress None, is that counter to what Aaron Bennett would want?”

Objection! Speculation.

“Was there a strong disagreement with how militias should be run? One maybe pro-violent and one not so much?” Traverso asked, trying to phrase the question properly.

“The times I spoke to Aaron Bennett, I spoke to him about the importance of being non-violent.”

“When Bill Fulton was frustrated with Schaeffer Cox about not having a plan, and that he had spent $30,000. Did he say anything about ‘assets’ (men) coming up?”


“He wanted to provoke some kind of confrontation with authorities?”

Objection! Speculation.

The judge says Anderson can testify to what he observed, not what was in someone else’s mind.

“What did you hear about some sort of engagement by Mr. Fulton?” Traverso asked.

“Fulton said he was bringing men and equipment up, and he’d spend 30k on it and he wanted to go ahead with some plan, and was looking for a plan.”

“Was any info given from notes you took on the database?” asked Traverso.

“The only one I remember ever looking up was Ron Wall when Schaeffer wanted to go talk to him.”

“Did he ever ask you for a name so he could go shoot someone, so I want his address?”


“Was that part of the philosophy – to engage the other side as much as you can?”

“That’s what he espoused.”

“When you got your information off the DNR website, would you transfer info to the database or just write notes.”

“Typically I would just save the web page.”

Did you enter Trina Bowcamp? No. Did you enter Trooper Barrack? Don’t remember. Ron Wall? I think I saved him. How about Gary Tolop? Don’t remember.

“You said that you saw a name in the newspaper, an article about a Marshal Jimmy Johnson. Schaeffer never asked you anything about him, did he?”


“When you were being interviewed by Ms. Klein and Mr. Meredith, you stated that you didn’t enter into any kind of surveillance, is that right?”

Anderson said he’d like to just say what he did and let everyone else decide what “surveillance” means. “What I did was I took one picture of one license plate. It was the only picture I ever took. I looked up some stuff on public information and that was it.”

“Did you give that information to Schaeffer afterwards? ”


“Have you engaged as far as you know in any conduct that you believe the objective being with Schaeffer was to commit a crime?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“You had another lawyer, Lori Bodwell who worked for the state. The FBI and another person had gone to her to speak about you?”

It was decided at this point that Anderson needed to consult with his attorney out of the courtroom before answering any more questions regarding this topic, so we take a brief recess.

When we begin again, we learn that Anderson will claim attorney-client privilege and answer nothing about Bodwell’s state of mind, or what she communicated to him.

I noticed before, when Anderson walked out of the courtroom with his attorney, that he was wearing a brown belt with blackish pants, and that the extra part of the belt, after you buckle it, wrapped completely around to his spine in the back, and was fed through several belt loops. I wondered if he had to borrow a belt from someone much heavier than himself, and drill a hole in it.

“Did you feel pressure to cooperate with the federal government?”

“At that time I felt some.”

Objection! Sustained.

Traverso marched on. “Was the pressure you were feeling because there was an effort to make you become a witness against Francis August Schaeffer Cox? What kind of pressure were you feeling?”

Anderson spoke haltingly, unsure of himself and how he would phrase things.

“ …I couldn’t put a finger on it. It was kind of general there. They were wanting me to say something used to be incriminating… but I didn’t know from whom. It was like a paranoia…”

“I asked you about whether or not you knew if Aaron Bennett had a strong dislike of Schaeffer Cox.”


“You mentioned that they espoused different views.”


“You had been concerned about information that Schaeffer had some sort of plan, through Aaron Bennett.”

“Bennett had heard it secondhand from Bill Fulton.”

“Did you have information of Schaeffer having some sort of plan?”

“I did not.”

Next up, Tim Dooley for Coleman Barney.

When you were at Blondie’s Gun Shop (also known as Far North Tactical) Coleman Barney was not there.


You had very limited contacts with Coleman Barney.


You called him on the phone to talk about food storage.

I had recently started selling storable food for an AMWAY type program and he was interested in buying some from me.

You had not met him at that time.


Never heard him ask about information on any persons, never asked you to maintain a list or a database.


You went to 2 meetings of the APM, and Coleman Barney was not there.

The 1st one no, the 2nd I don’t remember.

“It must have been difficult for you to be arrested on March 10. You were put in this hole, this isolation for 30 days. Your wife from Russia, you could not hug her or kiss her or anything.”

Objection! Irrelevant.

“Your Honor, it’s very relevant,” said Dooley.


“You had not received any documentation about the charges against you.”

“Not for several days.”

“After 30 days in the hole you were released to “general population” where you discovered there are really criminals in the jail.”


“You have never committed a crime in the past.”


“Your wife was very unhappy with you being in jail.”


“Eventually you are released, you must have celebrated. But later on you learn that the fed government wanted to speak with you, and you were willing to do that.”


“One day a group of men came to the house where you were staying.”


“You had told people where you were staying.”

“People knew.”

“Suddenly a large number of men, federal agents swarmed the house, and they had the helmets and bullet proof vest. Brandishing weapons.”

“I don’t remember them having weapons. They were reasonable with me, and nice… sorta.”

Dooley regroups. “OK, nice federal agents. They arrested you. What did you feel like when that happened?”

“A little angry because I was just getting fed up with the whole thing.”

“They transported you to Anchorage”

“The Fairbanks jail. They said there were no charges, and I had immunity to speak to the grand jury.”

“In your mind you had done nothing wrong, correct?”


“Except to get on the radar scope.”

The judge wants to clarify that this was his second arrest on a material witness warrant.

“Yes. They said if I told the truth, I would not be charged.”

“With conspiracy to murder,” Dooley clarified.

“While you were in prison in Fairbanks, was Coleman Barney honorable to you in his dealings?”




“Was he helpful or hurtful to you?”


“I’ve been told you save money by getting hard drives out of dumpsters.”

“I get everything out of dumpsters,” Anderson says laughing, but with pride. “90% of my wardrobe comes from the dump.”

(The mystery of the belt is solved!)

“Occasionally you found some distasteful things on those hard drives.” says Dooley.

“Two of those I never looked at and two I reformatted for my own purposes.”

“That’s all I have for you, Mr. Anderson. Good luck.”

I should mention here, that Tim Dooley has a very nice voice. If you were going to cast a voiceover for an attorney that made you feel good that he was your attorney, you would cast him. It’s sort of soothing and smart at the same time.

MJ Haden up next and represents Lonnie Vernon.

“You rarely have contact with Lonnie Vernon.”


“You see him a couple times a year at social events.”


“The meeting at Far North Tactical, Lonnie Vernon wasn’t there.”


“As far as you know, LV never participated in the Liberty Bell. Never answered a call.”


An email is showed on the screen. It’s the one we saw at the beginning. “This letter that describes what Mr. Cox would like different individuals to do in the APM – Lonnie Vernon’s name is not on there, is it?”

“I don’t see it.”

“Let’s talk about names we’ve been discussing. Gary Tolop is a state officer right? An Alaska State Trooper? Ron Wall, Alaska State Trooper? Burt Barrick? Alaska State Trooper. Malik Jones, Alaska State Trooper. All state employees.” (Emphasis Hayden’s. She’s done this before too.)


“We saw a piece of paper that had the name Jimmy Johnson. You wrote on a piece of paper ‘Federal marshal.’ You Googled it. You wrote it down in weatherproof book and you put it away and never looked at it again. Never passed it on.”


“During this time period when you are working on this database, I believe we looked at an exhibit with the drawing of the federal building. There was a notation with Vernons’ phone number. But you never called them.”


“And a notation to ask for paperwork but you never got any.”


“Lonnie Vernon never asked you to look something up, never came to your house, never called you, never asked you anything about this database.”


“That’s all I have.”

Steve Skrocki is back for the prosecution.

“Do you have any idea how many meetings Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon may have had in 2010 or 2011 together?”


“Do you know there are recording of conversations?”


“Do you know there are a lot of them?”

Objection! Reopening direct.

“How many people were on that database? From what areas?”

“15-20. A few troopers, a few Fairbanks police, and the one OCS worker that I remember. I’m guessing. I didn’t count them.”

“Those names came from Mr. Cox.” Skrocki said.

“A few of them.”

“Nelson Traverso asked you about Mr. Cox’s engagement with the other side. The word Gandhi was mentioned too, as part of your philosophical conversation. Mr. Cox made a statement to a judge, do you recall that and how it relates to nonviolence?”

“You mean, ‘We have the Troopers outmanned and outgunned, and we could have them all dead in one night, but we don’t want that, we want peace?’ That may not be word for word.”

That quote has been in the press many times, but I never heard the “but we don’t want that, we want peace” part before now.

“With respect to statements about Gandhi, and that he wanted peace, did you ever hear Cox tell anyone he knew where they lived?”


“Anything else you remember about how peaceful he might have been?”

“I didn’t see him much after that event. I think I saw him once. I didn’t see him much at all.”

“Thank you Mr. Anderson.”

Mr. Anderson is excused and walks out of the courtroom looking like a hundred pound weight has just been lifted off his shoulders.

The prosecution now calls Alaska State Trooper Derek Degraaf.

Yvonne Lamoureux questions him about his credentials. He is a Supervisor of the Alaska technical crime unit. He’s been a computer forensics examiner for 5 years. He’s conducted hundreds of examinations on computers, servers, cell phones, and digital cameras. He also oversaw others’ examinations. He got a Trooper of the Year award for his work.

They are talking about a Dell computer found in Ken Thesing’s residence.

He explains that he took a “forensic image.” This involves removing the hard drive, attaching it to a device called a “physical write blocker”  that allows him to make a copy of it without altering it. Then they put that on the server to examine the copy, and not the original. They verified the image, then installed the hard drive back into the computer so it could be submitted into evidence.

Now he is brought the tower seized from Mr. Vernon’s residence. He recognizes it. The same process was done on that computer.

“Did you encounter features or settings that limited your ability to retrieve information?” Lamoureux asks.

“The newer version of Internet Explorer has a privacy feature that tells the web browser not to retain some information, what searches, how many times you’d visited a website. Those privacy settings were enabled,” explained Degraaf.

3 documents found on hard drive are offered into evidence.

Coleman Barney’s wife is here. I think she’s been here every day, along with several others who sit in the middle of the second row. She’s in a long skirt with large pink flowers, a pink fleece jacket, a pink bag, curled bangs, no makeup, white socks and Mary Janes. She looks like she could be in Little House on the Prairie, if they had fleece back then.

The first document is a Declaratory Decree – offered to show the relationship between the Vernons and Schaeffer Cox. The common law jury trial date matches. The Declaratory Decree has blank lines for signatures.

The second document is a Homeland Security guide for emergency communications.  There were a number of radios at the residence, Lamoreaux says, and Lonnie Vernon made statements about taking out radio towers to interrupt communications. There are law enforcement channels listed in the book, to be able to be on frequencies the police are using.

Lonnie Vernon is leaning forward and squinting hard.

Hayden says that no radios were found in Vernon’s residence. There were in Coleman Barney’s residence.

The third document is the “Goodbye letter” from yesterday’s cliff-hanger. It appears it was admitted, though heavily redacted.

Haden objects – We don’t know how these documents got on the computer. They could have been emailed by Mr. Cox. There is no evidence that he ever even used the computer. And Mr. Vernon had no radio.

The judge says the exhibits may be admitted. “The objections go more to weight than admissibility.”

Declaratory Decree (Judgment).  (Graphic image of the ‘Civil flag’)

Organic, Alaska republic A.D. 1867 – A foreign Nation

Francis August Schaeffer Cox Vs. State of Alaska

Michael Gray prosecutor

We’ve seen this document before.

It has come to attention of this justice that agents/officers of your foreign administrative,  …upon the family, liberty, chattel and property under stewardship of Francis August Schaeffer, family Cox, with threats of extortion and intent to do bodily harm. These acts were carried out by paramilitary agents and corporate agents under the guise of law rendered by administrative agents acting as a judge in an administrative tribunal calling itself a “criminal court” which is in reality a Roman civil court…(…)

The next page is a place for jurors to sign and print their name, and respond to a judge in Washington.

Next slide

National Interoperability

Field Operations


US Dept of Homeland Security


This shows the different structure for government radio systems – fire, police, and how radio is set up across the country.

Page 4 –

Recommendations for programming federal inoperability channels

Law enforcement plans

Frequency ranges


Page 6 –

Digging deeper about frequencies.

Public safely, EMS, tactical channels

General public safety

Wide and narrow bands that are used.

Next up is the “Goodbye letter” – the non-redacted part.

The document was created 3/5/11 and modified two days before the Vernons’ arrest on 3/9/11.

Dear Beloved Family and Friends,

This is the most difficult letter we’ve ever had to write. If you are receiving this it is because we are no longer living upon the Earth.

We truly hope that our resistance will one day be helpful to others. That has been our main goal. The federal government of the United States of America needs to be reigned in and put back in its proper place and perspective. We pray that our physical deaths have not been in vain. We want better for our children grandchildren and generations to follow.

(…) We will not freely give our home land or personal property to this coward nor will we lick their jackboots

The lead deficiency of those who (…) was corrected as best we could.

(Lead deficiency corrected?! Yikes. I wish I’d gotten the exact quote on that one.)

Haden has questions about the reports/metadata presented by Degraaf.

“Looking at your report, you can’t determine whether this document was created on this computer,” she said flatly.


“It could have been downloaded from an email, thumb drive or disc.”


“As far as the Homeland Security document, which is a pdf file – it’s a public document that can be downloaded off the internet.”

… and I have to call it quits for today. I will most likely not make it back to the courtroom tomorrow due to other things I must attend to, and believe me nobody is more bummed out than I am.  But I will be back as time allows.







12 Responses to “Militia Trial: Insider Witness Surprises”
  1. Jay in Oregon says:

    Great reporting so far.

    I believe what you referred to as a “physical right blocker” should be a physical write blocker. It prevents data from being written to the drive that you are making an image of; they’re used in forensic data recovery.

    Aha! Thank you! AKM

  2. Norm Olson says:

    Great Reporting. The reference to “lead deficiency” pertains to a statement I made often to militia, that: “deviant criminal behavior is caused by a mineral deficiency of lead which can be remedied by administering 230 grains of lead in rapid succession.”

    When will Bill Fulton be called to the stand? The feds provided all the necessary “bait” to be used by him to lure the militia groups into bringing him into the inner circles. He attemped it with me. I have a large inventory of equipment given to me by Bill Fulton. (I would like to thank the central government for all the gear). But Bill didn’t get far with me. I’ve been in the militia business since 1993 and have been approached by “gift giving” agents on several occasions. Some have offered illegal devices, money, intelligence information (names and addresses), weapons, etc. to entice me into talking openly about tactical and strategic plans. I played Fulton’s game, much to the delight of the federal agents, but I didn’t step into the trap…

  3. Zim from Oz says:

    Off Topic….(It is past Friday midnight here in Australia….)
    Tonight ‘Game Change’ is on TV here … the popcorn and cannot wait… !

  4. bubbles says:

    what Zyx said. I don’t know what to say except how come these idiots aren’t in Gitmo telling it to a military tribunal?

  5. Zyxomma says:


  6. Really? says:

    Thank you for your great account. Several years ago the owner of Blondies was murdered., Three guys from Fort Wainwright were guilty of being involved (one slit his throat and the other 2-well,they were there too.) When I read the name of Blondies, I remembered how sad it was to hear about how he was murdered. From this account I’m guessing Far North Tactical bought Blondies. Can’t wait for another update.

  7. ThisMeansWar says:

    What about Todd Palin and his little Militia…we don’t hear about that…what happens in Alaska….

  8. beaglemom says:

    I find it interesting that sovereign Schaeffer Cox was a delegate to the 2008 Republican Convention in Alaska. It’s a little like Todd Palin being a member of the Alaska Independence Party. Republicans probably considered them just a tad more patriotic than need be. Good grief! But I love reading about the trial – it is fascinating.

  9. WinBeach says:

    Glad you are doing this, but boy is it depressing. I think I’ve run across folks of the same mentality in Anchorage. What is really sad is that one of the lawyers does not seem to be able to ask questions correctly–they were leading questions and were objected to. Even I know how to ask questions better than that.

  10. AKMagpie says:

    The secret’s out: you were a court stenographer in a previous life. Hat’s off to you again for your lucid reporting of totally un-lucid testimony. Thanks.

  11. observer says:

    Excellent detailed account of the testimony. Can’t find one as accurate as your report. Job well done. Enjoyed the comic relief (the belt mystery). Hope you remain a fixture throughout the trial. Much more information than we get out of other articles and much more entertaining as well. Keep it up. Thanks.

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