GAINESVILLE, Ga (Reuters) - Four Georgia men accused of plotting to buy explosives and produce a deadly biological toxin to attack U.S. government employees will be held without bail until at least next week, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
Frederick Thomas, 73; Dan Roberts, 67; Ray H. Adams, 65; and Samuel J. Crump, 68, were arrested on Tuesday and made their first appearance in federal court in Gainesville, Georgia, on Wednesday afternoon.
The men, brought into court in handcuffs and leg chains, requested court-appointed attorneys to defend them on the charges. Prosecutors indicated they would seek to keep the men in jail for a bond hearing scheduled for next week.
Federal authorities said an undercover operation had allowed them to disrupt the men’s plans before they posed an imminent threat to the public.
Authorities had been monitoring the group for months with the help of a confidential informant, who recorded conversations about the men’s plans to carry out attacks against federal buildings and employees.
Court records detail the content of those recordings, starting with a March meeting at the Cleveland, Georgia home of Thomas, who described himself as the fringe group’s leader.
Thomas said it should acquire more weapons, ammunition, food and survival gear and needed a silent way of taking people out.
“The right people have to be taken down, and taken down soon,” he told the group, according to court documents.
“I’ve been to war, and I’ve taken life before, and I can do it again,” he said at a later meeting.
Thomas said he wanted to kill employees of agencies including the FBI, Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service and, in May, drove with the informant to Atlanta to scout out federal buildings for possible attacks.
“There’s two schools of thought on this: Go for the feds or go for the locals. And I‘m inclined to consider both,” Thomas said during the trip, according to authorities.
Thomas told an undercover agent the group would likely carry out its plans within a year, court documents said.
Adams and Crump are accused of attempting to produce ricin, a deadly biological toxin made from castor beans and other ingredients.
Crump said he wanted to make 10 pounds of ricin and put it out in synchronized attacks on multiple cities, including Washington, Newark, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Adams allegedly gave Crump a castor bean last month, and both men expressed knowledge about how to make ricin, authorities said.
Reporting by Alan Sverdlik; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton