FBI agent signed as witness on Hutaree marriage certificate using false name
An FBI agent who infiltrated the Hutaree militia used a false name when he signed the marriage certificate as a witness for Hutaree leader David Brian Stone and his wife Tina Stone in 2009, Hillsdale County court and FBI records show.
According to an FBI 302 form obtained by AnnArbor.com, the undercover agent was the best man and signed the document at David Stone's request so "not to cause a questionable scene" at the wedding at the bride's home in Jefferson Township.
Defense attorneys for the couple declined to say whether they intend to raise the issue during cross-examination of the agent, who signed under the alias Stephen M. Clark. The agent is expected to be a key witness in the government's case against the couple and seven other Hutaree members accused of conspiring to overthrow the government.
“Clearly, it looks like there is a perjured signature on the document,” said attorney Mike Rataj, who is representing Tina Stone.
Attorney William Swor, who is representing David Stone, declined to comment on the certificate.
It’s unclear whether the agent’s superiors gave him authorization to sign a false name on the document and whether the FBI plans to notify the Hillsdale County Clerk’s Office about the issue. The certificate is considered a vital record in the state of Michigan, and a copy is kept at the Michigan Vital Records Office in Lansing, the clerk's office said.
The FBI has not made a request to correct the record, Hillsdale County Chief Deputy Clerk Stephenie Kyser said.
FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold, a bureau spokeswoman in Detroit, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation into Hutaree.
Ann Arbor-based attorney Jackie Garris, who specializes in family law, said the signature would not affect the validity of the marriage.
According to the 302 form, which has not been made public, the agent offered at one point to have one of Stone's sons "witness the license to 'keep it in the family.'"
Stone declined and asked the undercover agent to sign it at the Dec. 12, 2009 wedding, the form says. So, the agent signed it using an alias, the form says.
Given the circumstances, it does not appear the signature would create any issues internally for the agent, legal experts say. Wayne State University Law School professor and former federal prosecutor Peter Henning said it appears the agent complied with the Attorney General’s Guidelines on FBI Undercover Operations.
“Normally, undercovers are not instructed to commit any illegal acts,” Henning said. “I would certainly believe this would fall into the area of permissible conduct an undercover could engage in.”
In total, 17 people attended the wedding, many of whom dressed in military fatigues and posed for photographs holding AR-15s, the form says. Three children and a female undercover agent were among the guests, the form says.
According to the form, which was written up three days after the event, agents videotaped the wedding, and one was wearing a recording device.
Nine Hutaree members are awaiting trial after being arrested last March on charges including seditious conspiracy and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
Among the allegations is that members discussed killing a police officer and attacking the funeral procession motorcade with homemade bombs.
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.