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Member of white supremacist group pleads guilty in Florida

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Fri August 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Christopher Brooks pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm
  • He will serve three years in prison
  • Brooks was one of 14 people charged in the case of American Front

(CNN) -- A member of American Front, a white supremacist group, has pleaded guilty in Florida to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and will serve three years in prison, prosecutors said.

Christopher Brooks, 27, was one of 14 people charged this year in connection to an investigation into the group.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped two other felony counts -- participating in paramilitary training and conspiracy to shoot into an occupied dwelling -- according to Osceola County State Attorney's Office spokesman Bernie Presha.

Brooks, who pleaded guilty Wednesday, is the first of the 14 to resolve his case. The alleged ringleader of the group, Marcus Faella, is scheduled to go on trial this month.

According to police, Faella was planning to stage provocative disruptions at Orlando City Hall and at a Melbourne, Florida, anarchist gathering that included members of anti-racist skinhead groups.

Faella, police documents say, wanted to stir up media attention to help gain new recruits for American Front, which hate-tracking groups says has been faltering since the death of its leader, David Lynch, in California.

The 25-year-old group enjoyed a resurgence in 2007 under Lynch, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a charismatic leader who helped form it in 1987. But Lynch was shot to death in his home in March 2011, leaving the group with no clear leader, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Most of the group's 50 or so members appear to live in Florida, according to the ADL.

"Faella views himself and the other members of the AF as the protectors of the white race," investigators wrote in an affidavit, referring to the group by its initials. "Faella has stated his intent during the race war is to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities."

According to police, Faella's group watched videos training them in fighting and the use of AK-47s and other weapons at a compound in Saint Cloud, Florida, which the affidavit said is ringed with barbed wire and protected by pit bulls and firing positions facing the driveway.

The property was meant to become a refuge for white supremacists after the fall of the U.S. government during a race war, investigators wrote. The group was allegedly making body armor and sniper suits and stocking up on supplies in preparation.

The charges came on the heels of a two-year investigation based on the reports of a confidential informant who had to flee the fortified compound after Faella nearly discovered secret recordings the informant had made of training exercises, according to the arrest affidavit.

In Session's Aletse Mellado contributed to this report.

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