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Robert Doggart

A Tennessee man accused of planning an assault on a small Muslim community in New York now faces more federal charges.

Since January — when a federal magistrate judge ordered Robert Doggart to report for mental health testing — prosecutors re-presented his case to a grand jury. On Tuesday, jurors returned a four-count true bill that replaces the original one.

In July 2015, a grand jury indicted Doggart on one charge of solicitation to commit a civil rights violation. Authorities said Doggart, a Signal Mountain resident of Sequatchie County, Tenn., and a 2014 congressional candidate, spent months gathering weapons and plotting an assault on the Muslim community called Islamberg outside of Hancock, N.Y.

Federal agents became aware of his plan in early 2015. They began surveillance in March, took him into custody in April, and drew up a plea agreement in which Doggart admitted to the plot later that month.

But U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier chose not to accept the plea until prosecutors produced briefs that showed Doggart was a true threat, records show.

Then, amid scores of protesters in July, Doggart pleaded not guilty to the civil rights violation charge. The 64-year-old returned to house arrest after a federal magistrate judge denied a motion to detain him. And his trial, set for September 2015, was bumped to Jan. 19.

The case snagged further after Doggart's then-attorneys asked to get off the case in December, citing irreconcilable differences and a complete communication breakdown. Bryan Hoss and Janie Parks Varnell continued to represent him until Jan. 19, when U.S. District Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee ordered Doggart to report to mental health testing.

During that hearing, Doggart said he'd found two attorneys who wanted to represent him, though financial difficulties had prevented him from retaining them. In February, one of those lawyers, Garth Best, entered a notice of appearance. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Days after he joined the case, Best filed a motion saying, "the client and I feel that a thorough evaluation can and should be conducted on an outpatient basis."

Because of Lee's order, Doggart would have been required to report to a federal medical center in Lexington, Ky., which he and one of his daughters protested. Best asked for a hearing on the matter, but Collier denied the request. Ultimately, Doggart reported to the facility Feb. 16 and was scheduled to finish his psychiatric evaluations this week, records show.

In the meantime, prosecutors beefed up Doggart's original indictment, tacking on one count of solicitation to commit arson of a building and two counts of threat in interstate commerce charges.

Doggart is scheduled to next appear June 3 before magistrate Lee, records show.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.

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