Four suspected members of a fringe Northeast Georgia militia group were charged Tuesday with plotting to buy explosives and make a deadly toxin, ricin, in order to attack unnamed government officials.
Those arrested are Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, and Dan Roberts, 67, Ray H. Adams, 65, and Samuel J. Crump, 68, all of Toccoa.
The four men are scheduled to make an initial court appearance at 2:15 p.m. today at the federal courthouse in Gainesville.
Two of the men were arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Cornelia while the other two were arrested in Stephens County, according to Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said the four men were part of a militia group called the Covert Group. A criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia details a monthslong effort by the suspects to carry out attacks against government officials and citizens.
Thomas and Roberts met in May and June with an undercover agent in hopes of purchasing an unregistered silencer and explosive devices, according to the complaint. They agreed to purchase the devices to be used "in attacks against federal buildings," according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
Those meetings were followed by several other meetings with the agent to make further gun and explosive purchases, according to the complaint.
A confidential source working with the FBI recorded various meetings between members of the militia group. According to the complaint, during one of those meetings, Thomas discussed a "bucket list" that included taking out a list of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media.
The confidential source, currently on bond for pending felony state charges, was given a polygraph test that determined he or she "gave less than truthful responses concerning the activities of the militia group."
According to the complaint, Thomas was recorded as saying, "There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that's highly, highly illegal. Murder. That's (expletive) illegal but it's gotta be done."
The complaint also includes Thomas saying "When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die."
The complaint alleges that in other meetings Thomas suggested obtaining the weapons in any way necessary, including stealing or attacking a manufacturer's truck.
Thomas' wife Charlotte Thomas called the charges "baloney."
"He spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy," she said. "He would not do anything against his country."
According to the complaint, Thomas told an undercover agent, "I've been to war, and I've taken life before. And I can do it again."
The complaint also states that during a meeting with members of the militia at Thomas' home in Cleveland, Thomas discussed some potential targets that included personnel from the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI, police and "everybody in the (Department of Justice)."
Charlotte Thomas said her husband doesn't have an attorney yet.
Margaret Roberts said FBI agents showed up with a search warrant and went through her home, taking a computer and other items.
She said her husband is retired from the sign business and lives on pensions.
"He's never been in trouble with the law. He's not anti-government. He would never hurt anybody," she said.
Thomas and the undercover agent conducted surveillance May 24 on the IRS and ATF buildings in Atlanta to assess for possible attacks, according to the indictment.
"We'd have to blow the whole building, like Timothy McVeigh," Thomas said during the Atlanta trip, referring to the man executed for bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City, the indictment states.
Adams, meanwhile, is accused of showing an informant the formula to make ricin and identifying the ways to obtain the ingredients.
On Sept. 17, prosecutors say Crump was recorded by a confidential informant as saying he would like to make 10 pounds of ricin, which would be simultaneously placed in several U.S. cities. Ricin can be deadly if inhaled or ingested.
Prosecutors say possible cities mentioned were Washington; Newark, N.J.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta and New Orleans and Crump suggesting the ricin could be blown out of a car speeding down an interstate highway.
Also according to the complaint, Thomas discussed tactics to kill anyone he deemed as "anti-American or enemies of America."
"Of course, a .40 Smith and Wesson or .45 ACP is just as good, even better cause it makes the whole head explode," the complaint says he told an investigator.
The militia's plans, according to the complaint, also included detonating explosives in the government buildings, as well as ATF or DEA vehicles filled with officials.
The complaint states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed Crump worked in the past for a contractor at the center.
It also states Adams previously worked as a lab technician for a Department of Agriculture agency called the Agricultural Research Service.
Attorneys for the men were not identified, and the federal defender's office had no immediate comment.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the case is a reminder that "we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security."
Associated Press contributed to this report.