You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Former Ford County Resident Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Charges Related to Domestic Terrorism

URBANA, Ill. – Emily Claire Hari, formerly known as Michael B. Hari, 51, of the 200 block of First Street in Clarence, Illinois, was sentenced on July 11, 2022, to 14 years in the federal Bureau of Prisons for conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats and violence, attempted arson, unlawful possession of a machinegun, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Hari had previously pleaded guilty to all four charges contained in the indictment. During the latter part of 2017, Hari started a militia group, which called itself the “Patriot Freedom Fighters,” and which sometime later went by the nickname the “White Rabbits.” In addition to Hari, who served as its founder and leader, the militia group included convicted conspirators Michael McWhorter, Joe Morris, Ellis J. Mack, and Wesley Johnson. Around the latter part of 2017, the conspirators began engaging in repeated criminal acts of violence, which they referred to as “jobs.” As part of their militia activities, the conspirators obtained materials used to make incendiary devices, provided weapons and uniforms to the conspirators, and assigned rank to the conspirators To assist in their militia activities, the conspirators acquired and/or assembled four shotguns and four assault rifles, some of which were fully automatic. The weapons, as well as thermite (a pyrotechnic composition), were stored in a locked safe in the militia group’s “office” in Clarence.

On November 7, 2017, Hari, McWhorter, Morris, and Johnson travelled to the Women’s Health Practice located in Champaign, Illinois. The Women’s Health Practice provided medical services at that location and purchased and distributed medical supplies. The conspirators went to the Women’s Health Practice for the purpose of using an incendiary device (i.e., a pipe bomb) constructed by Hari to set the building on fire. Hari rented a truck in which the conspirators traveled to the Women’s Health Practice. Once there, Morris broke a window and placed the pipe bomb in the building; the pipe bomb did not ignite, however. On the morning of November 7, 2017, a receptionist at the Women’s Health Practice found the pipe bomb on the floor and called law enforcement officers.

On December 16, 2017, with Hari’s approval, the conspirators traveled from Clarence to a residence in Ambia, Indiana, for the purpose of robbing a Hispanic individual they believed to be involved in drug trafficking. The conspirators wore their “White Rabbit” uniforms and were each armed with firearms. Pretending to be law enforcement officers executing a search warrant, the conspirators forced entry to the residence. The conspirators handcuffed and zip-tied the residents, causing injury to the wrists of one of the zip-tied individuals. After searching for cash and drugs, the conspirators left the residence and returned to Clarence.

On two occasions in December 2017, several conspirators traveled to WalMart stores in Illinois (one in Watseka, and one in Mt. Vernon) with Hari’s approval to attempt to obtain money. The conspirators entered the stores armed with dangerous weapons and confronted cashiers.

On January 17, 2018, Hari, McWhorter, and Morris traveled from Clarence to a location near Effingham, Illinois, where they attempted to sabotage railroad tracks owned by the Canadian National Railway, through the use of an incendiary device. Following the attempted sabotage, the conspirators sent an extortion demand via anonymous e-mail to the Canadian National Railway threatening that that there would be more damage inflicted by the conspirators to railroad tracks if the railroad did not pay the conspirators approximately $190,000 in cryptocurrency.

On February 18, 2018, the conspirators planted bomb-making materials, including a pipe bomb, on the property of an individual in Clarence to attempt to get the individual in trouble with law enforcement prior to a court hearing in Ford County where Hari faced criminal charges for allegedly assaulting the individual in June 2017. Hari then e-mailed an anonymous “tip” to federal authorities that explosive devices were contained in a suitcase and gray bag in a shed at the individual’s property. On the same day, the FBI responded to the address and found multiple explosive devices, including a pipe bomb attached to a small green propane tank, in a shed at the back of the residence.

Following the Clarence search, the conspirators became concerned that the FBI might search the militia group’s office and seize their weapons, including the machineguns. Therefore, Hari and McWhorter moved the weapons, including the machineguns, to the residence of another member of the militia group located in Clarence, where they were later seized by the FBI. The same day the FBI seized the conspirators’ machineguns, Hari, McWhorter, Morris, and Mack fled Clarence, Illinois, on foot and stayed in the woods and in abandoned barns. While they were “on the run,” the conspirators made a video where they wore masks and requested assistance from other militia members.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm found that Hari’s crimes were serious and wide-ranging and accepted the parties’ agreement that Hari should be sentenced to fourteen years of imprisonment. In December 2020, following a jury trial, Hari was convicted of charges related to the August 2017 firebombing of a mosque in Minnesota, along with McWhorter and Morris. A federal judge in Minnesota previously sentenced Hari to fifty-three years of imprisonment for those charges.

“Although the militia group started by Hari called itself the ‘Patriot Freedom Fighters,’ the members of the group convicted of federal crimes were not patriots but violent criminals,” said United States Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “Attacking innocent citizens and lawful facilities using threats and violence are not the acts of ‘patriots,’ and this conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Once again, this case exemplifies the extraordinary investigative efforts of the FBI to bring individuals to justice who commit violent crimes.”

“Emily Claire Hari represents the very real threat posed by domestic violent extremists in the United States,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “The FBI’s counterterrorism team is designed to combat this type of violence and is committed to prioritize and gather intelligence to continually assess the threat picture. The FBI’s focus has been and will remain keeping the American people safe from threats or acts of violence.”

On April 15, 2022, Johnson was sentenced to 66 months of imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy by U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank in the District of Minnesota. On April 12, 2022, McWhorter was sentenced to 190 months (15 years and 10 months) of imprisonment by Judge Frank on both the Illinois and Minnesota charges. On that same date, Judge Frank sentenced Joe Morris to 170 months (14 years and 2 months) of imprisonment. On March 8, 2022, Judge Mihm sentenced Ellis Mack to 42 months of imprisonment (time served). 

The case investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Office. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller is represented the government in the Central District of Illinois prosecution.

Updated July 13, 2022