Undercover information revealed in Viper case
ATF cameras watched Arizona militia's training, meetings
July 5, 1996
Web posted at: 5:25 p.m. EDT
PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) -- Federal investigators, with help from an undercover agent, used cameras and microphones to monitor meetings and training exercises of the so-called "Viper Militia" over the last five months, a federal agent testified Friday.
Steve Ott of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was the first witness called by prosecutors at a detention hearing in federal court for 10 of the 12 group members arrested Monday and charged with federal weapons violations and unlawful possession of bombs and bombmaking materials.
Ott said the ATF became involved in the case last February, after an Arizona law enforcement officer infiltrated the group in December 1995. The state officer, who was not named in court, was deputized as a special U.S. marshal, Ott said.
The Arizona Republic, a Phoenix newspaper, reported that the infiltrator is an employee of the Arizona Game and Fish Department which is now concerned for the man's safety.
What he saw
The undercover officer observed weapons training which involved automatic weapons, Ott testified. The infiltrator also observed a 3-foot deep, 6-foot wide crater apparently caused by an explosive device, he said.
The detention hearing for defendant Finis Howard Walker, 41, was postponed until Monday at the request of his newly appointed lawyer. The hearing for defendant Dean Carl Pleasant, 27, had already been delayed until Monday.
During Friday's proceedings, prosecutors may try to introduce portions of a 1994 videotape seized in raids on the members' homes. In that video, three militia members conduct surveillance on federal buildings in Phoenix, and describe how best to blow them up, federal authorities have said.
Defense lawyers are expected to argue that the militia members were playing war games and not training to attack a specific target. They are also expected to claim the video is not significant because militia members never took steps to implement plans to blow up buildings.
- Video to be shown at "Viper Militia" hearing Friday - July 5, 1996
- Undercover cop taped militia training session, ATF says - July 2, 1996
- Feds reveal plot to destroy government buildings - July 1, 1996
- FBI searches home in Amtrak case - December 13, 1995
- FBI 'confident' it will find Amtrak saboteurs - October 10, 1995
- One dead, 100-plus injured in Amtrak derailment - October 9, 1995
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