Darren Wesley Huff convicted in plot to seize Tennessee courthouse

Darren Wesley Huff convicted in plot to seize Tennessee courthouse

October 25th, 2011 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

In an Oct. 4, 2011 photo, Georgia militia supporter Darren Huff, 41, of Dallas, Ga., leaves the federal courthouse in Knoxville, Tenn. Huff goes on trial Tuesday Oct. 18, 2011 on weapons charges stemming from a bizarre plan to take over a rural East Tennessee courthouse and serve a citizens' arrest warrant that named local judges and officials. (AP Photo/Bill Poovey)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II

Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A jury convicted a Georgia man Tuesday of a federal firearms charge in what authorities said was a plot to take over a Tennessee courthouse and force President Barack Obama out of office.

Darren Wesley Huff, 41, was found guilty of carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder. He was acquitted of using a firearm in relation to another felony. He faces up to five years in prison.

"The verdict on count one reflects exactly what the law is supposed to do, which is prevent harm before shots get fired, people hurt, or property damaged," Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie told reporters after the verdict.

Scott Green, Huff's attorney, did not comment after the verdict. When he spoke The Associated Press on Monday before the verdict, Green quoted former New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay: "Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order."

Huff was stopped by Tennessee officers in April 2010 and told them he was bringing guns into the state from Dallas, Ga., to support efforts to arrest Monroe County officials who refused to indict Obama.

Huff was a part of a Georgia militia and the 'birther' movement that disputes Obama's U.S. citizenship.

Officers testified Huff was carrying a loaded Colt .45 in a holster on his hip plus an assault rifle and 200 or 300 rounds of ammunition in a tool box in his truck. They said he also had a document he claimed was a "citizens' arrest warrant" for officials, saying they were domestic enemies and had been charged with treason.

Huff testified that he wanted to help Walter Fitzpatrick, a military retiree living in Madisonville, who was arrested after he tried to put the local grand jury foreman under citizen's arrest. Fitzpatrick, who became hostile to the government two decades ago when he faced a court-martial, is in jail over that incident.

Huff choked back tears as he told the jury Friday that he was humiliated because "my government has called me a potential domestic terrorist."

He denied he threatened to take over the courthouse in Monroe County, which is about halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

"I have never made a statement about taking over the courthouse, the city, the state, nothing," Huff said.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan ordered Huff into custody following the jury's conviction. Huff, wearing a light green shirt and khakis, was handcuffed by officers in the courtroom. A sentencing hearing was scheduled in February.