Hutaree militiaman to get guns back Friday

July 6, 2012 4:15:50 PM PDT
After more than two years in a federal evidence vault, Thomas Piatek's personal arsenal is scheduled to be returned to him on Friday by the same government that said he planned to use them in a violent rebellion.

Piatek, who was acquitted in March of charges that he six other Hutaree militia members were plotting an armed revolt against the government, will be getting back 41 guns, 100,000 rounds of ammunition and the accouterments of combat according to his attorney.

The arsenal was seized from Piatek's home in Whiting, Indiana in 2009 when he was arrested during a well-publicized federal takedown of the Christian militia group. The raids were conducted in southern Michigan and northwest Indiana. Piatek had been held in jail since then with prosecutors saying he was a danger to the community.

A federal judge in March acquitted seven Hutaree members of all conspiracy charges, concluding the government didn't have enough evidence that the group plotted a violent uprising that included killing a police officer and bombing a funeral.

When Piatek was released from federal custody in Detroit he made no public statements. In his first known comment on the case, Piatek pooh-poohs the prosecution, stating on his Facebook page that "This whole case was, as my Ma used to say: sh-- for the birds."

One photograph displayed on the Facebook site shows Piatek hoisting a "Gadsden flag" that proclaims "Don't Tread on Me." The historical, bright yellow flag adorned with a snake has seen a surge in popularity and represents a commitment to individual freedoms.

There are other photos that show Piatek leaving court after his acquittal.

The return of Piatek's pistols, shotguns and rifles-including an AK-47-ammo, body armor and commando togs, follows a stinging loss for federal authorities in Detroit who had brought the case.

Other defendants in the case have already received their previously confiscated weapons however Piatek's collection was by far the largest. On several occasions since his release the I-Team attempted to speak with Mr. Piatek. He has declined.

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