DETROIT – DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed additional weapons charges against several Midwest militia members who are accused of conspiring to wage war against the United States.
The new indictment alleges possession of illegal machine guns or short-barrel rifles by the group's leader, David Stone, sons David Stone Jr. and Joshua Stone, and a fourth man, Joshua Clough.
The weapons were seized March 27 during a series of raids and arrests in southern Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
"I have no comment on it. Charges don't mean anything," David Stone's defense attorney, William Swor, said.
David Stone Jr.'s lawyer, Richard Helfrick, said he can't recall his client having a short-barrel rifle. Attorneys for Clough and Joshua Stone did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Nine members of the group, called Hutaree, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit sedition.
The government claims the Michigan-based group planned to kill a police officer and then attack law enforcers who attend the funeral. Defense attorneys say the group engaged in stupid and hateful speech but that it was not criminal.
In the new indictment, prosecutors charged the nine with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. They previously had been charged with attempting to such weapons.
Four of the nine militia members, including David Stone Jr., have been sent home with electronic tethers while they await trial. A federal appeals court next Tuesday will hear arguments about whether the others — Clough, David and Joshua Stone, Thomas Piatek and Michael Meeks — should be released from jail under similar conditions.
Helfrick believes it's no coincidence that the new charges were filed less than a week before the hearing in Cincinnati.
"The timing is directly related to keeping the defendants detained," he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet, who was the lead prosecutor during a critical two-day detention hearing in Detroit in April, is no longer on the case, spokeswoman Gina Balaya said. Messages seeking further comment were not immediately returned.