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HINESVILLE, Ga. — A 22-year-old Georgia man pleaded guilty Tuesday to more than 30 charges for his involvement with a group of Army soldiers who authorities say planned acts of domestic terrorism.
Timothy Joiner, a former soldier who served in Iraq, pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary, financial-transaction-card thefts, and violations of the street-gang terrorism and prevention act, among other offenses, said Prosecutor Isabel Pauley.
He pleaded guilty as a first offender and was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. If he successfully completes the probation, the criminal felony conviction will be stricken from his record, Pauley said. If Joiner violates his probation, he will appear in front of a judge again and be sentenced for each individual offense — which would translate to 376 years in prison, she said.
Joiner stole various items to provide bond for a jailed leader of Forever Enduring Always Ready — or F.E.A.R., the prosecutor said. The group was a self-described anarchist militia led by soldiers who authorities say plotted to bomb a Savannah park fountain, poison apple orchards in Washington state and assassinate the president.
Authorities say the militia, led by Army Pvt. Issac Aguigui, was split into separate cells, and that Joiner was involved with a branch responsible for finding ways to fund the group, which had amassed about $87,000 worth of firearms and bomb components. The cell Joiner was involved in was led by Adam Dearman, 27, of Auburn, Pauley said.
The militia's leaders — Aguigui, Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon — were charged with the double murder of former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York. Prosecutors say Roark had access to the militia leader's credit cards and made purchases for the group. Authorities say the leaders killed Roark after he left the Army, along with York, to ensure they would not spill any of the group's secrets.
Dearman was arrested in December 2011 on aggravated-assault charges stemming from a shooting in Elbert County, about 100 miles east of Atlanta. Authorities have said they believe the shooting was related to the militia's activities. Following Dearman's arrest, authorities say Joiner began breaking into cars and burglarizing homes to help fund an unspecified bond amount for Dearman.
"They needed to get a leader out, and he was the logical leader to get out," Pauley said, adding the group either pawned or sold the goods for cash to try funding Dearman's bond. Dearman is awaiting trial for the shooting and has yet to be brought back into the jurisdiction where the militia case is being prosecuted.
Joiner pleaded guilty in two separate indictments and was charged with three home burglaries, nine car break-ins, and other thefts of items including guns, cellphones, GPS devices, a bulletproof vest, a motorcycle helmet and a woman's debit cards.
More than 10 people have been charged in the case, which is being prosecuted in Georgia's Atlantic Judicial Circuit.