Lawyer argues for Indiana militia member's release

June 3, 2010

Thomas Piatek of Whiting, Indiana is behind bars because prosecutors say releasing him to home confinement poses a risk to the public. A federal judge's order to release him has been put on hold until a federal appeals court can hear arguments from both sides next week.

Prosecutors say that Piatek is part of the Hutaree, a militia group based in Michigan that allegedly planned to kill police and wage war against the government. According to Federal Court documents, the Hutaree planned to kill an unidentified member of law enforcement in Michigan and then attack the subsequent funeral with Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs.

In a letter submitted yesterday to the court, his lawyer, Arthur Jay Weiss, argues that Piatek should be released because prosecutors don't consider him an "integral part of the Hutaree leadership".

Weiss argues that the U.S. Attorney's office hasn't shown "any differences between the activities" of Piatek and the 25 other people identified as members of the Hutaree who were not charged in the plot.

In Piatek's detention hearing after the initial charges, prosecutors argued that Piatek was present in a vehicle while the Hutaree leader, David Stone, detailed the group's "manifesto" in a speech planned for a militia gathering. An undercover federal agent secretly recorded Stone calling on militia members to "strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny" saying "people in this nation as well as some around this world are waiting for those individuals like you see sitting in this room to actually make the decision to go to war against this evil, greedy New World Order."

In the newly submitted letter to the court, Piatek's lawyer cites portions of the detention hearing transcripts, writing that the speech "speaks of reclaiming America, not overthrowing the United States Government" and that "it is significant to recognize the concept of 'tak[ing back] our country' is current-mainstream-ideology."

Weiss also argues that several of the alleged Hutaree members who have already been released on bond pending trial were far more involved in any potential plot than Piatek. He says while Piatek was present at the time the "manifesto" was discussed, one of the alleged Hutaree who has been released "expressed a desire to detonate an IED" outside a police department and another was charged with possessing illegal firearms. He says that all of the weapons federal agents seized from Piatek after his arrest were registered and legally acquired as a hobby during the past twenty years.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will hear Piatek's arguments in Cincinnati next Tuesday.

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