January 7, 2014

Prosecutor: 2 men plotted against government sites

Associated Press

GAINESVILLE — A prosecutor said Tuesday that two Georgia men plotted to make a poison to use against government officials and federal buildings, while defense attorneys said the pair were simply talking big and committed no crimes.

The lawyers’ claims came during opening statements in the trial of Samuel Crump and Ray Adams before U.S. District Judge Richard Story in Gainesville.

Crump and Adams were among four men arrested in November 2011 after surveillance by an undercover informant who infiltrated their meetings at homes, during car rides and at a Waffle House restaurant. They face charges of conspiring and attempting to make ricin.

Two other men, Frederick Thomas and Dan Roberts, pleaded guilty in April 2012 to conspiring to get an unregistered explosive and an illegal gun silencer. Story sentenced each of them to five years in prison.

Federal prosecutor Jeffrey Brown read statements he said the two men made in secretly recorded conversations about their desire to strike the federal government and their willingness to kill people. He also explained to the jury that searches of their homes turned up large quantities of castor beans, which are used to make ricin, as well as a recipe for the toxin and tools used to make it.

“It’s their actions, coupled with their own words ... that shows their desire to use ricin to kill innocent people,” Brown said, repeatedly stressing that the two men went beyond just words to commit criminal actions.

Barry Lombardo, an attorney for Adams, described his client as a “country boy” who loves to hunt and fish and knows a fair amount about plants. Adams knew castor beans as a solution to get rid of pesky moles and grew castor plants as a decorative hedge along his driveway, Lombardo said.

“The evidence shows two things: conversation and castor beans,” Lombardo said. “Sammy Crump had some conversations. Ray Adams had some castor beans.”

Lombardo also raised concerns about a confidential informant used by the FBI to infiltrate the group the authorities say Crump and Adams were plotting with. Lombardo said the man prodded Crump and Adams forward to come up with a plot he could reveal to authorities to get his charges or sentence reduced in a separate case.

Dan Summer, an attorney for Crump, said his client was a good man who got caught up in a bad plan and that neither he or Adams ever belonged to a militia group. Crump wasn’t part of a conspiracy, didn’t make ricin and never said he would, Summer said.

“All you will hear in this case are the musings of an old man,” Summer said.