ATLANTA — A federal judge has denied bond for the four elderly Georgia men accused of plotting terror attacks against government officials, saying in an order filed this week that there was no other way to "reasonably assure the safety of the community."
U.S. Magistrate Susan Cole said in Monday's written order that although the four militia members may be elderly and infirm, they could still carry out attacks simply by pulling a trigger or detonating an explosive with a cell phone. Some of the men, she wrote, could feel they have "nothing to lose by committing the violent acts."
Cole had denied the request for the bond during brief remarks at a hearing last week, but elaborated on the decision in a 28-page order. She concluded there was ample evidence to keep them in federal custody while they await trial, and said there were "no conditions of release" that would ensure they wouldn't commit any violent acts.
Defense attorneys, who are planning to appeal the judge's decision, said the men were never going to follow through on boastful chatter recorded by a government informant. They said the charges accusing them of plotting to use guns, explosives and the biological toxin ricin against federal employees are overblown.
The four men were arrested in early November after at least seven months of surveillance by the informant, who infiltrated their meetings at a Waffle House restaurant and other places. Frederick Thomas, 73, and Dan Roberts, 67, are accused of conspiring to obtain an explosive and possessing an unregistered silencer. Ray Adams, 55, and Samuel Crump, 68, are charged with conspiring and attempting to make ricin.
The men allegedly boasted of a list of government officials including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder who needed to be "taken out;" talked of scattering the biological toxin ricin from a speeding car through major U.S. cities; and scouted two federal buildings in Atlanta. One man said, ""We'd have to blow the whole building like Timothy McVeigh," a reference to the man executed for the deadly Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
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Copyright 2011 Associated Press