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EYEWITNESSES APPEAR TO DISPEL “COURTHOUSE TAKEOVER” ALLEGATIONS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 19, 2012) — Exactly two years ago, an unusual assemblage of approximately 100 police, SWAT team members, FBI and TBI agents, sheriff’s deputies, and Tennessee Highway Patrol members were dispatched to Madisonville, the county seat of Monroe County, TN, where an assignment hearing for Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III was scheduled to take place.
Various mainstream news reports stated that Darren Huff of Dallas, GA and Walter Fitzpatrick of Sweetwater, TN, had planned to “take over” the courthouse that morning and even the entire town. The assignment hearing arose from Fitzpatrick’s attempt to carry out a citizen’s arrest, legal in Tennessee, on the acting grand jury foreman of 27 years. Fitzpatrick said that Gary Pettway was compromised from having served in the position for that length of time and that state law had been violated. In September 2011, Fitzpatrick was told by the court clerk in a letter that no appointing order could be located for Pettway over the course of his tenure. Huff had used a video camera to tape the citizen’s arrest on April 1 and was charged, along with Fitzpatrick, for inciting a riot, to which Huff ultimately pleaded “no contest.”
Contrary to an AP report, the April 1 citizen’s arrest did not concern “Barack Obama’s citizenship.” Rather, it was about the foreman serving in violation of TCA 22-2-314, which states that no juror can serve a second consecutive term. However, grand jury foremen are routinely reappointed to consecutive terms in Tennessee.
If the alleged “court records” purportedly identifying Huff and Fitzpatrick as being “involved with others” to carry out a takeover plan refers to the transcripts from their joint arraignment hearing on June 28, 2010, both defendants have told The Post & Email that they do not accurately reflect the proceedings on that day.
Fitzpatrick has said that there was “a government plan” to implicate him as a “dangerous person” prior to the assignment hearing, including a local judge having ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation which he ultimately refused.
On April 20, 2010, Huff and an acquaintance, Carl Swensson, were stopped on their way to the assignment hearing by law enforcement personnel although both Swensson and Huff reported that dash-cam video showed that both were driving their vehicles lawfully. Swensson was eventually charged with participating in the April 1 “riot” but not prosecuted.
Huff had told The Post & Email that he had traveled from his home in Georgia to attend the April 20 hearing to lend moral support to Fitzpatrick, and he is quoted in other media reports as renouncing any potential violence. No one was arrested on April 20; rather, Huff was arrested ten days later, on April 30. On Veterans’ Day 2010, he told The Post & Email that it was possible that the “takeover” claim was a “flat-out fabrication from the FBI” and that he possessed a recording of the traffic stop in which he “repeatedly” stated, “We have no violent intentions whatsoever.” Huff stated that his federal defender had told him that if he did not accept a plea deal, he would be charged with an offense carrying a five-year penalty.
Huff was convicted last October of “carrying a firearm in interstate commerce” after testifying at his trial. Fitzpatrick told us that he had wanted to testify at Huff’s trial, was transported by U.S. Marshals to the federal courthouse in Knoxville to do so, but was not called to the stand.
Has the federal government exacted retribution against Huff for refusing the plea deal? On what basis has his sentencing hearing been postponed three times?
An alleged “FBI affidavit” alleging the “takeover” plot was relied upon by local media, but to our knowledge, the author or authors have not been named. Law enforcement authorities were allegedly tipped off by a man named “William L. Bryan,” also known as “PJ Foggy.” Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that he learned directly from the inmates involved that “pole cameras” had been set up the day before the assignment hearing in preparation for the expected confrontation.
Fitzpatrick, Huff and others have stated that “nothing happened” in the way of a confrontation that day, and no one was arrested.
The Post & Email has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the affidavit and other pertinent information to the extensive police presence in Madisonville that day.
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT 06076
On April 13, we received a letter from the FBI stating that the information was being sought pursuant to our request.
On October 25, 2011, Huff was found guilty of one firearms violation and incarcerated directly after the jury read its verdict. He has been in jail since that time. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for February 29 but postponed to April 3, then continued again to April 20, the two-year anniversary of the police assembly in Madisonville. Recently, we have learned that Huff’s sentencing has been postponed again to an undisclosed date, although there will be some type of hearing on April 20.
On April 17, The Post & Email sent a list of questions to Huff’s public defender:
Good morning, I don’t know if you are able to communicate with the press or not on the above case, but if you can, I have some questions, as I have been following it from the beginning on April 1, 2010:
1. Is the judge aware that there are eyewitness accounts that state that no one was carrying firearms into the courthouse or appeared to be planning any type of “takeover?” I have four such accounts in my possession now.
2. I have been told that Darren was convicted on a law which states that three people have to have been found to be conspiring, yet Darren was the only person arrested, and that was ten days after the huge police presence in Madisonville on April 20, 2010. Why was he arrested ten days later and not on the spot? Why did a conviction even occur when there clearly were not three people involved?
3. Why has William L. Bryan not been questioned about calling in a phony “takeover” plot? Has the FBI looked into who “William L. Bryan” is?
4. Where is the “FBI affidavit” referenced in local news reports at the time in which a plot was supposedly described? Who are the agents involved? Has anyone submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain that information?
5. A fifth eyewitness who also testified at Darren’s trial said that federal agents perjured themselves at that time. Are you in agreement with that statement?
6. Was it really proven that Darren was planning on doing anything that day other than attending an assignment hearing for Walter Fitzpatrick?
7. Are you aware of a TIME Magazine article entitled “Extreme Militias” published on September 20, 2010 which mentions Huff and Fitzpatrick by name and slanders them? Where did the author, Barton Gellman, obtain his faulty information?
The Post & Email is concerned that Huff’s constitutional due process rights might have been violated, e.g., was the federal jury immaculate, did federal agents lie, and where is the affidavit referenced in news reports? Why has no one published it? I have evidence that the Knoxville FBI is involved in Monroe County corruption, hence my concern.
Thank you very much if you are able to answer.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
We have not received a response from Atty. Scott Green, Huff’s public defender.
On September 30, 2011, TIME Magazine published a piece entitled “America’s Extreme Patriots” which mentioned Huff and Fitzpatrick specifically. A lead-in to the story appears to indicate that the research commenced at approximately the same time as the April citizen’s arrest and assignment hearing.
The pointer which appears on the left was placed on the page by Fitzpatrick, who mailed it to The Post & Email along with other news articles about his case in Monroe County. He has filed complaints with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, William C. Killian, about the irregularities in the grand juries and court procedures in Monroe County but never received a response. Killian has labeled Huff a “militia extremist.”
Recently The Post & Email was informed that an aide to a prominent congressman is collecting evidence from citizens of non-response on the part of U.S. Attorneys around the country, and we have initiated contact with her.
It is Fitzpatrick’s opinion that the Knoxville FBI, local law enforcement, the local and national media, and even the White House have been working together to cast him in a negative light as a “sovereign citizen” who wants to “overthrow the U.S. government.” Fitzpatrick has stated that he wishes to return the country, and Monroe County, in particular, to constitutional governance. Fitzpatrick said, “Darren Huff was stopped with Carl Swensson and whomever else he was traveling with at I-75, which is maybe ten miles away from Madisonville. In Madisonville itself, you have this extraordinary police presence that was observed by my landlord and many others…these guys were on alert. They think that we’re about to take over the courthouse. You’d think that if anybody had been seen with an openly-displayed weapon ten miles away, do you think that anybody would have been allowed to move around freely without being confronted by a federal and state law enforcement official saying, ‘What are you doing with a gun?'” Fitzpatrick said. “Nobody was confronted by law enforcement because nobody was doing anything that would cause that type of confrontation. If the FBI saw somebody in town with a gun, they would have been confronted just as Darren was confronted.”