Journal Times news services
MILWAUKEE (AP) Nine members of a militia group linked to the old Posse Comitatus in Tigerton have been indicted on charges of passing more than $64 million in phony currency nationwide, federal authorities said Friday.
The indictments, which were filed Tuesday in Milwaukee, were unsealed Friday after all the suspects had been arrested. The suspects are from Wisconsin and four other states.
Sources said the group is identical in nature to the Freemen in eastern Montana, who have been involved in a standoff with the government since March 25. Federal agents here wanted to avert a similar situation, sources told the newspaper.
Those indicted Friday belong to Family Farm Preservation, a group that is said to be the successor to the militant Posse Comitatus. The group has been under watch by the FBI since 1993.
The indictment charges that the group passed bogus money orders and bankers checks in 27 states.
Those indicted are: Thomas Stockheimer, 64, of Tigerton; Leonard Peth, also known as L.A. Pethahia, 60, of Tigerton; Harry Days, 42, of Oxon Hills, Md.; Johnny Johnston, 72, of Seagoville, Texas; Inge Kelly, 59, of Kings Beach, Calif.; David Krieger, 41, Canton, Texas; Gladys Lee, 65, of Atlanta, Ga.; Thomas Ponchik, 44, of Milwaukee; Mark Van Dyke, 43, of Antigo.
Three of the defendants Stockheimer, Peth and Van Dyke were indicted in March 1995, but the indictments were thrown out at the governments request so that federal agents could expand their investigation and include those who distributed the fraudulent money around the country.
This is not just the tip of the iceberg, said U.S. Attorney Thomas Schneider. We got the entire distribution network.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum possible penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.