Minnesota man sentenced for arms charge, not terrorism
ELK RIVER, Minn. —Buford “Bucky” Rogers, arrested a year ago in what the FBI called a major terrorist plot, was sentenced on Monday to three years and four months after federal authorities decided to charge him with lesser crimes of illegal possession of a firearm and two small, unregistered explosive devices.
Rogers, 25, has been held in Sherburne County jail since his arrest on May 1, when 50 law enforcement officers and two armored carriers raided his parents’ mobile home in Montevideo after the FBI got a tip that Rogers planned an attack on the Montevideo police station and National Guard armory, as well as a local radio tower.
Last Friday, in its presentence memorandum, the U.S. attorney’s office conceded “that a broader plot was not discovered,” but nevertheless said he should receive a five-year sentence for having the weapons he possessed in a neighborhood with children living nearby. He will receive credit for the year he’s already served in jail.
Rogers pleaded guilty in January to possession of a semi-automatic rifle, which he is forbidden to have because he was previously convicted of a burglary, and for possession of two black powder-and-nail explosive devices.
At the time of his arrest in the western Minnesota community, the FBI said that Rogers headed a group called the Black Snake Militia and that it had broken up a major terrorist conspiracy. The FBI later revealed that their information came from a single tipster who had left Rogers’ group, whose membership totaled three or four people.
Rogers’ attorney, federal public defender Andrew Mohring, contended in a memorandum that federal authorities had exaggerated their claims about Rogers in the aftermath of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and urged he be sentenced to only two years in prison.
Judge: ‘I hope we’ve got your attention’
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said the case received an “inordinate amount of attention” for what turned out to be an ordinary weapons possession offense.
Montgomery began by pressing prosecutor Andrew Winter to assure her that there had been no plot or conspiracy.
Winter conceded, though he disputed Mohring’s description of the Black Snake Militia as a purely defensive group. Winter pointed out that Rogers had participated in practice shooting when he was prohibited from possessing weapons.
In imposing a sentence that she described as in between the terms recommended by the prosecution and defense, she said Rogers appeared not to have learned his lesson from previous arrests for weapons possession so it was important to deliver a message to stay away from guns. “
You can’t be around anyone with firearms,” she said. “You really have to make a change. ... I hope we’ve got your attention now.”