By JJ MacNab | March 31, 2008
When you first walk into the Federal courthouse in Concord, NH, there’s a giant, stainless steel statue of Lady Justice.Â While the description of the statue says that she is blindfolding herself, from the angle below as you enter the building, I would swear that she’s flossing her ears.
Judging from the lack of public access in key hearings in this case, maybe Justice is both blind andÂ deaf.Â The public has been shut out of literally all motion hearings by the Judge, who holds such meetings in his chambers, and even the minutes from those meetingsÂ are not in the public record.
The Judge has also decided to extend court hours to 3 pm, which means that the poor jury is squirming in their seats for six and half hours without a lunch break.Â
The day begins when the guns are wheeled into the courtroom in a large redÂ RubbermaidÂ bin.Â In that context, the guns looks like plastic kids’ toys.Â
Witness Chris Conway
Mr. Conway is a property manager who one day saw a mysterious box at the front door of one of the Vermont homes he manages.Â The home was supposed to be vacant, but when he checked it out there was a note on the door saying that packages should be left there.Â The package was addressed to Jason Gerhard.Â He called the property owner, the 800 number for the company that mailed Jason the box, and the police.
Witness Allison Rees
Ms. Rees is a fingerprint specialist for the ATF.Â She examined 200 pieces of evidence (pipe bombs, Tannerite containers and baggies, and so on) and found onlyÂ a very small number of fingerprints on pieces of tape and on a rifle scope.Â Those rare prints belonged to Ed Brown.Â Despite this lack of results, defense attorneys managed to drag out cross examination for almost 30 minutes.
Witness Gary Mattison
Mattison is a supervisory deputy US Marshal who was in Cohoes, NY when Danny Riley was arrestedÂ in possession of a rifleÂ that bore the handwritten autographs of Randy Weaver and Edward Lewis Brown.
Witness Roy Wright
Mr. Wright (every girl’s dream man with a name like that) is a deputy US Marshal in Long Island who searched Jason Gerhard’s home in Brookhaven, NY.Â In Jason’s room, they found a stickie with Bob Wolffe’s address, a handwritten shopping list, a receipt for items matching those on the shopping list, American Express bills totaling thousands of dollars over a three month period, a NH Wal-Mart receipt, and a NH liquor store receipt.Â
The handwritten shopping list contained such things as 1)Â two Serbu rifles, 2) a Serbu bipod, 3)Â two sheriff’s vests, 4) one police vest, 5) waterproofer, and so on.Â
The various receipts showed that Jason paid $2,595 to Serbu, roughly $4,000 for two night vision scopes, both of which were found at the Brown house, and $1,263 for more than a thousand rounds of ammunition.Â According to the invoice, the order was placed on June 7, 2007 and delivery dates were estimated to range from July to October.
One receipt showed Jason having items shipped to the vacant home in Vermont, the rest had a shipping addressÂ of his mother’s home in Brookhaven.
Witness SeanÂ Harrington
Mr.Â Harrington is a patrol trooper for the New Hampshire State Police.Â Â On July 20, 2007, he pulled Jason over for speeding and noticed a Ruger rifle and box in the back seat.Â Jason told Harrinrgton to relax, that he had just purchased the gun that day, it wasn’t loaded, and he was speeding because he was rushing to the Brown’s home in Plainfield to get there in time for dinner.Â When the trooper returned from checking Jason’s license, Jason was opening and closing a knife repeatedly which gave the trooper concern. The trooper gave Jason the ticket and called his barracks to report the incident because he found Jason’s acts suspicious.
Witness Robert Wolffe
Bob Wolffe was the fourth defendant in this case.Â He signed a proffer letter just a few days after the September 12, 2007 indictment and arrest, and signed a plea agreement in January, 2008.Â Wolffe was wearing an orange prison t-shirt, jacket, and pants, but otherwise looked tidy, composed, and very serious about his situation and testimony.
Wolffe lives in Randolph, VT and first heard of Ed Brown when the Browns were on trial in January 2007 for tax evasion and structuring financial transactions.Â Over the next eight months, he visited the Brown house roughly 25 to 30 times.Â He said that he understood that they had been convicted on multiple felony counts and that they were evading arrest.
Wolffe conducted counter-surveillance by following US Marshals when they were following Jim Hobbs (the man who posts comments on this blog), and provided armed security for the Browns by wearing weapons at their home.Â He also did some target shooting on Ed Brown’s range next to the home.Â He identified a number of weapons he’d seen others carrying at the home.
Wolffe has been charged with three felony counts in this case, and no counts were dropped as part of his plea agreement.Â He not only wasn’t promised any leniency by the prosecutors, but he was warned repeatedly that if he lied on the stand, he would be prosecuted for perjury.
Wolffe testifiedÂ on a number of important issues:
1) He saw Reno and Ed carrying rifles while patrolling the property
2) On another occasion, he saw Ed, Jason, and Danny with rifles again patrolling the property
3) He saw Reno wearing a semi-automatic pistol in a holster and said that Reno toldÂ him that he was a security specialist in the military who was there to provide the Browns with security
4) Reno had brought a .50 caliber rifles to the Browns’ home
5) He first met Danny in late April, and Danny was involved in internet dealing with Shaun Kranish of www.makethestand.com
6) He saw Danny and Ed trying to detonate Tannerite using different caliber ammunition and later Ed showed Wolffe the Tannerite baggies in the trees
7) He saw the zip guns in Ed’s garage and Ed and Danny told him about their plan to place blanks in them and set them up as booby traps around the property to act as an early warning system
8 ) Wolffe met Jason in mid-June and said that Jason took care of things around the Brown house
9) Jason had been purchasing weapons for Ed Brown, but the local dealer had decided not to sell him any more
10) Jason told Wolffe that he was joining the military to learn more about military tactics and explosives
11) Wolffe is still a tax denier, but said that Ed and Elaine were convicted felons, so protecting them was a crime
12) Wolffe lied to Keith Champagne in various letters by not telling him about his proffer in September 2007
13) Wolffe was not a Constitution Ranger until the Brown standoff and didn’t know the Browns
14) One of the main reasons Wolffe pled guilty was to protect his wife from weapons charges
15) Wolffe acted asÂ a mail center for various Brown supplies
16) Wolffe provided roughly 6 to 8 pieces of pipe that were later turned into zip guns
17) Wolffe had been in Ed Brown’s bedroom but not his closet (sometimes you have to wonder about the defense attorneys’ questions…)
18) He saw Lauren Canario at the home three or four times, but was unfamiliar with several other names
19) He said that Jim Hobbs lived at the Brown house for several weeks after Reno left
20) Wolffe said that Ed Brown had a “secret hit list”Â but Wolffe thought that that was between Ed and his God
21) Wolffe said that Ed had asked him to purchase a gun for Elaine, but that he’d refused. “I didn’t want to get involved in the standoff in that way.”
Wolffe didn’t spend thatÂ longÂ on the stand but his information was quite forthright and direct.Â Â Unlike theÂ otherÂ defendants inÂ this case,Â it would appear that he has a much better grasp of the reality of the situation.
It sounds like theÂ prosecutors will rest their case tomorrow.Â So far, there has been significant evidence shown on all of the counts with the possible exception of the explosive device charge against JasonÂ Gerhard.Â