Former Ford County resident convicted of militia-related crimes

A federal judge sentenced a former Ford County resident to 14 years in prison for various militia-related crimes.

Emily Hari, 51, of Clarence, Illinois, founded and led a group known as the Patriot Freedom Fighters which was also called the White Rabbits. Prosecutors said the group collected machine guns, other weapons and thermite, and committed crimes in Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. These include throwing a pipe bomb at a women’s health clinic in Champaign and the bombing of a mosque in Minneapolis in 2017.

“Emily Claire Hari represents the very real threat posed by domestic violent extremists in the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Springfield Field Office, David Nanz. “The FBI Counterterrorism Team is designed to combat this type of violence and is committed to prioritizing and gathering intelligence to continuously assess the threat picture.”

Hari pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct commerce by threats and violence, attempted arson, unlawful possession of a machine gun and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Prosecutors said other crimes committed by the group included robbery in Ambia, Ind., Watseka and Mount Vernon, both in Illinois, and attempted sabotage of railroad tracks in Effingham, Illinois. Prosecutors said that in 2018, Hari also planted bomb-making materials at the residence of a man who accused Hari of assault and sent an anonymous email to authorities to get him in trouble.

During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm found that Hari’s crimes were serious and far-reaching and accepted the parties’ agreement that Hari should be sentenced to 14 years. from prison. In December 2020, following a jury trial, Hari was found guilty of charges related to the August 2017 firebombing of a mosque in Minnesota, along with two other defendants. A federal judge in Minnesota had previously sentenced Hari to 53 years in prison on those charges.

“Although the militia created by Hari called themselves the ‘Patriot Freedom Fighters,’ the members of the group convicted of federal crimes were not patriots but violent criminals,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “Attacking innocent citizens and lawful facilities using threats and violence is not the act of ‘patriots’ and such conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Several other co-defendants were also sentenced to long prison terms.

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