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Posted on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 5:15 p.m.

Tip about militia member Mark Koernke led to Hutaree investigation, court filing says

By Lee Higgins

The FBI formally opened an investigation into the Hutaree militia in 2008 after two people claimed Webster Township militia member Mark Koernke was one of two leaders of the group, according to a court filing Friday by Todd Shanker of the Federal Defender Office.

That information "has proven to be utterly false," the filing says. 

In addition, 20 months after the probe was launched, "the same agent that authored the investigation-opening report could offer nothing new regarding criminal behavior," the filing says.

Shanker, who is representing Hutaree member David Brian Stone Jr., is appealing an order by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Komives to deny a request for a Vinson-Enright hearing — a pretrial hearing during which the government must prove a conspiracy existed and the defendants were part of it.

Nine members of Hutaree are awaiting trial after being indicted in March on charges including seditious conspiracy. Among the allegations is that Hutaree members planned to kill a law enforcement officer and attack the funeral procession motorcade with homemade bombs.

According to Shanker's filing, the investigation began on Sept. 30, 2008 after a confidential informant, along with a member of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, identified Mark Koernke and David Stone Sr. as the leaders of Hutaree. Stone was charged in the case, but Koernke was not.

The filing mentions an FBI report on that date that describes Koernke as "a notorious 'anti-government conspiracy' theorist with prior convictions for assault of a police officer, resisting arrest and fleeing police, for which he served just over seven years in prison."


David Stone Jr.

The report concludes by saying Stone Sr., Koernke and "yet to be indentified members of the Hutaree are possibly taking steps to commit criminal acts or conspiring to harm the United States government," the filing says.

According to the filing, David Brian Stone, Jr. "never said an unkind word about anyone" on many hours of secret tapes recorded by confidential informants and two undercover agents.

The only action the government could attribute to Stone Jr. was "setting off fireworks at the command of his father during a training session to avoid trip-wires in June of 2009 — over nine months before the arrests," the filing claims.

"There is not a shred of evidence that David Stone Jr. knew of any plan to use weapons of mass destruction against local police officers, let alone that he agreed to such a plan," the filing says.

Federal prosecutors had previously argued in a court filing that a Vinson-Enright hearing was not only premature, but would be “burdensome, time-consuming and uneconomic.”

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts will review Shanker's filing and has various options. She can overrule the magistrate and order a full Vinson-Enright hearing, affirm the magistrate's decision and deny the hearing or reverse the magistrate's order in part and order a more limited Vinson-Enright hearing.

Shanker is still waiting a decision on a separate motion to dismiss seven of eight charges against his client.

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and e-mail at



Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 2:05 a.m.

I guess we needed to wait till these guys killed a few innocent people before the police could act? They had the means to do this (guns), they allegedly were recorded making plans to do this, am I missing something here? I think I am going to get a CCW to protect myself from "patriots" like these guys.

Eric K

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 : 8 p.m.

leaguebus No one was asking "to wait till these guys killed a few innocent people before the police could act". The issue is that there were no specific plans, or evidence to show that ANY of the claims made in the "Indictment" are true. No specific place, time, persons involved other than the accused were mentioned. A vague dialogue of humor (in bad taste in most law enforcement's eyes) does not a conspiracy plot make. What you are missing is specifics. If you listen to the recording it was very vague and obviously said in humor due to the laughing and later mention of getting hookers. Whats next, is the FBI to charge them with conspiracy to solicit sexual favors? When the lead FBI agent on the case couldn't answer simple questions, and the evidence to back up the claims was non-existent it should have been dismissed, but due to the charges the Judge gave the FBI the benefit of the doubt, She had planned on releasing all of those arrested. However the prosecution "appealed" the decision and took it to the supreme court to over rule that decision.


Sat, Dec 18, 2010 : 8:32 p.m.

They were set up. The Obama cronies just like Clinton thought theyd fight back and have another ruby ridge or waco,so they can have another assault weapons ban, which was enacted right after waco, create a crisis.

Ethan Koernke

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

And our Informants in Detroit FBI Office are keeping tabs on everything in the FBI Regarding this case and others. We have many friends in law enforcement who are with the Oath Keepers. this site is created by the Law enforcement groups across the nation as well as Military, and others who have sworn to uphold the Constitution(which is now an act of Terrorism, or is a hate crime). or you can listen to Independent Radio free of censorship of the freedom of speech and religion. you can talk about Ala, Jesus, Oake, Loki, or whatever. So tune in and listen.

Ethan Koernke

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

This whole "Plan to kill a cop" is from the FBI agent who was "UNDER COVER". Look to the hutaree website and see if you find the FBI informant and the "UNDER COVER FBI AGENT". If you picked the two with their faces covered with Large Dark sunglasses, and their hats pulled down at the sides then you win. I spoke with the FBI agent once and he told me right to my face that all this crap their charging Dave and his boys with. I have near 40 witnesses to this because I lead him around the house and made sure everyone knew that this was this FBI Agents plan. If you are courious about how I knew then he was FBI? He is the first person since Tom Wane(FBI Informant 1990-1997), who said;"Those people in the Government aren't going to listen to anyone, unless you blow up a federal building." Mr. Wane spent some time going from place to place spouting this with two individuals that wore the same basic ensemble as the two who were in the Hutaree group. When Mr. Wane had the Police called on him for Inciting Criminal Behavior, and acts of Terrorism at a Taxpayers association meeting they were allowed to go home once they had a chat with the police over the mater. The security team,(which was mostly Livonia police and retired police) followed these individuals to their cars. As the one was climbing into his car he said "If you don't stop following me I'll put you under Federal arrest." Now that seems Logical considering they just said in front of 200 people that they wanted to blow up a federal building. This was October 1994.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

Doing would mean, perpetuating misinformation and intolerance of other viewpoints not in league with your own by indicating such differences are the result of crackpots with personality disorders and over inflated egos? Got it. Way to own it.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

rice...i agree completely, and that's why i do what i do on this and other sites.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:46 a.m.

Not that one would expect information, fact or precedence to penetrate ignorance and prejudice. But one must attempt to counter such misinformation were one can lest it spread. After all a lie left unchallenged becomes the truth and all it takes for evil to prevail is for a good man to do nothing.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:40 a.m.

Wow that was some pretty fancy name calling there. Congrats for getting that past the mods. I am not a militia member nor did I place myself in the company of those illustrative figures. My point is that the sentiment displayed and the very broad brush being used against these people who hold many of the same values as those I mentioned were used against those very same historical people as well. Both by the English, those who sympathized and those who of inertia prefer the status quo. One person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist. So far all the reported evidence to the latter has been weak and there have been far too many examples in the FBI and government's recent history of the same tactics both in the investigation and following prosecution to NOT keep a close eye on this case regardless of your feeling for militias. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

george washington, ben franklin, paul revere, ricebrnr.....ummmm. Apropos of which ( and militias and cults generally), per the sunday NY TIMES the american psychiatric assoc. is considering rejecting acute narcissism ( over inflated egos which can lead to all kinds of social ills)as a 'personality disorder'. While this may be good news for some blog posters and FOX talking heads, its bad for the rest of us.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

NWJ, Maybe you do, but note that my comments are usually a counterpoint OR a place to start a dialogue. If there were no takers in the dialogue, or no comments that very much need countering then I'd believe that others got it too. Until then...


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

Ricebrnr, we get it! You like big guns and and small government. Same blog, different topic.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.

Yah who needs crackpots like, George Washington, Ben Franklin or Paul Revere? Why riff raff like that talking all kinds of nonsense and advocating liberty? Why that's just unAmerican!


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 7:25 p.m.

The usual suspects on this thread will no doubt be contacted to join hutaree, if the jailed yahoos are acquitted... (and if the current threadsters in question aren't already members!). I'd prefer a neighbor who is an FBI agent to one who's a militia---or some other crackpot group's-- member


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 9:18 p.m.

These are American's lives we are talking about here...part of the Hutaree are still in jail and could be for years to come before seeing trial--on what most legal scholars are saying is a weak case at best. It should be troubling when the head FBI agent can't describe what illegal activity the Hutaree did wrong. The point I am trying to make is that in a country that prides itself on freedom and free speech, these guys could be sitting in jail for saying stupid things--or maybe worse because they owned guns. Both last I knew where protected under the constitution.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

This case reminds me in one vein of the Robert Miles sedition case the FBI lost a number of years ago. Nobody actually believed on the jury there was any intent to overthrow the government. One of the jurors actually later married one defendant. The fact that the trial court judge actually released defendants on bond is a showing that all the goofy talk never swayed the judge that these defendants were serious or a real threat. The other real disturbing fact about this case is the lawsuit filed by the Office of U.S. Attorney against Michael Rataj, a Hutaree defendant legal counsel, for a 20-year old student loan debt just days after Rataj successfully convinced a court to release his client from custody. This presents a pattern of curiously coincidental legal action being taken against an attorney opposing the interests of that office or of law enforcement in general. Recently, a prominent Dearborn attorney, Tim Attalla, that had represented members of the Highwaymen motorcycle club was acquitted after bench trial by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds of federal "obstruction of justice" and drug delivery charges for allegedly advising an arrestee not to answer police questioning (how dare he!) and also allegedly giving a single Viagra tablet to a club member(Viagra drug abuse? LOL). The indictment document in that case had vague charges against Attalla in stark contrast to specific allegations against other defendants. The indictment forced Attalla to take a leave of absence from his position with the prestigious Miller Canfield law firm and to resign from a senior position with a campaign organization tied to then-mayoral candidate Dave Bing. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Convertino was likewise acquitted of federal charges awhile back. Convertino had publically criticized the government's handling of terrorism prosecutions and had filed a whistleblower's action in federal court prior to his being indicted. Charges in a second case against Convertino that had been awaiting trial were voluntarily dropped by the Public Integrity Section chief of the Department of Justice following Convertino's exoneration in the first case. Convertino is now in private practice. Geoffrey Fieger and his law partner were exonerated by a federal court jury of campaign violation charges despite the fact the FBI assigned 80-100 agents to a single meeting in the case, raided Fieger's office, and seized thousands of pages of documents. A team of FBI agents drove all the way to MSU at East Lansing to stop and interrogate the daughter of Paul Broschay, an attorney and former Detroit police officer who specialized in handling police misconduct lawsuits for Fieger's law firm. The FBI has a conviction rate of 97% in cases it brings to grand juries. However, the case cited above were weak and the government's failures in those cases suggests that the prosecutions were motivated by political considerations rather than legal merit.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

"PLUS he has GUNS and is willing to use them." Oh my I bet he has a car and is willing to use that too! Wonder how many innocents he can mow down on a full tank of gas. Just think how many he could get on a game day around Main and Stadium? The horror!


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

"Mr. Koernke is a harmless flake/fake with loose lips. This is nothing but a huge wast of taxpayer money." He is all that, PLUS he has GUNS and is willing to use them. He scares me more that the bunch the UM is tryng to protect me from. You know, they banned water from the Big House & then charge $4.00 for it inside. We need to pay more attention to the nuts among us to really be safe.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

@ERMG, LOL I actually wasn't thinking of you but appreciate you innput! As for bloviation, well if that isn't the perfect word for what we've heard from the government so far.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Before a big flame war erupts let's just wait and see how Mr. Stone the Younger's Vinson-Enright hearing goes, eh? The feds seem to be holding this young man's fate under a sword of Damocles in order to have some leverage to induce a plea bargain from his father.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 9:16 a.m.

I would think that someone who believes that consent of the governed is essential to legitimate governance and that a strong government is often necessary for effective societal cooperation. Believes in seeking balance where possible, a strong public understanding of law, equal civil and political rights for all, and a country free of religious coercion. I would think such a person would have much to fodder here. huh, go figure.

Top Cat

Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

Mark Koernke seems to have his name involved with any story like this in southeast Michigan. There must be someone in the Feds named Captain Renault who says "Round up the usual suspects."

Steve Pepple

Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

A comment attacking another commenter has been removed, along with an earlier comment containing name calling.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

Cocaine is illegal, period. A "cache" of weapons and Muslim literature in and of themselves or together are not unless something else about the makes them so.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 8:34 a.m.

I am wondering... If the police had raided a house in Ypsi, finding cocaine and a cache of weapons, with a picture of a young black man posted on, would the "just plain folks" crowd be singing the same tune they are now? If the police had raided a house in Dearborn, finding Muslim literature, a cache' of weapons with a picture of a couple of guys wearing head scarves posted on question. If these same guys had been busted in Oct 2001...same question.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 8:34 a.m.

@ Malorie..... Yeah, that's Koernke's place. I was out that way at Jenny's Market to get pumpkins in October and it looks like Koernke is still living there.

Basic Bob

Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

For those that think the FBI screwed up, you should consider the source of the court filing - the defendant's lawyer. It is not an impartial review of the facts.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 3:36 a.m.

The general gist of this story is that the government does not now seem to have much of a case. Moreover, it never did have much of a case. The implication is that moving forward with an unjust prosecution was less embarrassing for the minions of law enforcement than to admit they spent time and money to find no crime. Nothing new here. Those who take the side of law enforcement in every crime story should consider that police and prosecutors are just like everybody else: They make mistakes, and they don't like being forced to admit them. The shameful aspect of this, however, is that under color of law the lives and reputations of those falsely charged have been damaged. No single group of people in the country take an oath to tell the truth more often than law enforcement officials; consequently, nobody commits perjury more often than law enforcement officials. The more we let them get away with abusing their power, they more they will continue to abuse it. As an American revolutionary noted in the 18th Century, those who sacrifice liberty to gain security will lose both.


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 2:34 a.m.

@Peter, Agree that the police are for the most part just out go bust you so they can make a HUGE buck and line their pockets/pensions and healthcare plans. Mr. Koernke is a harmless flake/fake with loose lips. This is nothing but a huge wast of taxpayer money. Good Day No Luck Needed


Tue, Dec 7, 2010 : 2:25 a.m.

These militiamen are nuts. It's not like anyone really likes the police, they are normally hillbillies but whatever, you can't just go around plotting to kill them.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

"Besides, the "win" goes in the win/loss column at the time your charges are authorized, when you get an arrest warrant. That is when the pain and suffering starts for the suspects." Your comments absolutely disgust me. Show me the damning evidence in this case. Sorry, but there isn't any.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

Whether or not this case is successful depends on all of the evidence. It's good to see the feds taking this seriously, to let these types know that if you talk about killing police and practice doing it, you will be charged. Besides, the "win" goes in the win/loss column at the time your charges are authorized, when you get an arrest warrant. That is when the pain and suffering starts for the suspects. And since anything can happen in court, sometimes unbelievably insane, you don't let it bother you. A conviction is just more icing on that cake. I am sure this case will go forward. If it were a bad case it would have been dismissed by now.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 8:37 p.m.

The government will likely lose this case. The sad part is the millions of dollars in taxpayer funds that will have been wasted.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 8:26 p.m.

Where's Andrew with his presumption of innocence arguments?


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 7:56 p.m.

Koernke is the militiaman who has/had a house in Dexter on Dexter-Pinckney Road with a sign up for an AM radio station isn't he? I grew up in Pinckney living next to a militia member with a few screws loose - cameras set up in the woods, walls set up around his entire house with what seemed to be a pile of logs ready to be let loose to roll over any intruder like in a movie, plus the vicious guard dogs that scared the crap out of me as a kid. I think most of them (militiamen in general, not Hutaree) have their heart in the right place, if only their brains were too.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 6:24 p.m.

Why is that a debacle I see coming? I can tell the future!


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

The FBI seems to have egg on it's face. Now what?