Unlocking a Militiaman Treasure Chest

Thomas Piatek

April 1, 2010 7:14:27 AM PDT
Thomas Piatek of Whiting, Indiana, was ordered held without bond and sent to Detroit, where he and eight others are charged.

Federal investigators knew all the nicknames of the accused militiamen from "Pale Horse" to "Captain Hutaree." But they didn't have Piatek's nickname. The I-Team has learned his nickname was "Digger 308." And it proved to be a name that unlocked an Internet treasure chest of information.

The public has seen Piatek's mug shot during the past few days. But there is another picture on the Internet that Piatek wanted just women to see. Apparently snapped in a hotel room, the picture shows Piatek wearing shorts and a beach necklace. It was posted on a Web site where people solicit sex partners. It is there that Piatek would sign in using his nickname, Digger 308.

Digger 308 also has a personal YouTube site where his favorite videos are posted for the world to see. One video states the 9/11 attacks were carried out by the U.S. government; others focus on how to begin a violent rebellion against the government.

Another video from the official Web site of the Hutaree militia was the only one played in court Wednesday by prosecutors. It shows a burning U.N. flag being replaced by the militia's own flag.

Piatek regularly attended the Hutaree's live ammo drills in Michigan. Friends and relatives say they thought he was just playing army.

In court Wednesday, federal prosecutors played an undercover tape of Piatek and Hutaree leader David Stone, Sr., discussing the killing of police. Authorities say Stone was aiming to create his own country.

Andrea Harsh was once engaged to marry Stone.

"They went so far to make a big map on a room in their house of their own country and their own names of their countries and cities and stuff. It's very extensive," said Harsh.

"Just because you happen to be a member of an organization it doesn't mean that you subscribe to all the views of the organization," said Jerry Flynn, Piatek's public defender.

Piatek is actually an upstanding American, says his lawyer who outside court described how Piatek even marched in local July 4th parades.

Prosecutors said Wednesday the 46 guns and 13,000 rounds of ammo found in Piatek's home suggest another side of the man.

And on numerous Web sites found by the I-Team where he posted comments supporting violent rebellion, a far different picture emerges of the man who now faces sedition charges.

Even on several Internet dating and match-up sites under the nickname Digger 308, Piatek interjected an unusual outlook. "My ideal first date," he wrote on one dating site, "an armed march on Washington."

Nancy Blade, who met Piatek in January on a dating Web site, says she can't believe he's that bad.

"He was always good to me. He would never be mean to me and always treated me like a lady," said Blade.

Piatek will be transferred by U.S. Marshals to Detroit, where detention hearings are underway for the other eight defendants in the case. On Wednesday in Detroit, prosecutors played a tape made by an undercover FBI agent in which the Hutaree leader is heard to say, "Now is the time to strike and take our nation back... this war will come whether we are ready or not."