Two Members of the Violent Extremist Group “The Base” Each Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison for Firearms and Alien-Related Charges
The Court Found That the Defendants Committed Those Crimes to Promote Terrorism
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang today sentenced two members of the racially motivated violent extremist group “The Base” each to nine year in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release for firearms and alien-related charges arising from federal charges in Maryland and Delaware. Judge Chuang found that, based on additional evidence presented by the government at a hearing on October 25, 2021, the defendants committed these crimes with the intent to promote federal terrorism crimes.
Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., age 35, of Elkton, Maryland, and Newark, Delaware, previously pleaded guilty to the Maryland charges of conspiracy to transport certain aliens, to transporting certain aliens, to disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an illegal alien, and to transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony; and for the Delaware charges of harboring certain aliens, aiding and abetting an alien in possession of a firearm, and obstruction of justice.
Canadian national Patrik Jordan Mathews, age 29, recently of Newark, Delaware, previously pleaded guilty to the Maryland and Delaware charges of being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition; for the Maryland charge of transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony; and for the Delaware charge of obstruction of justice.
A third co-defendant and member of “The Base,” William Garfield Bilbrough IV, age 21, of Denton, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to transport an alien and to transporting the alien, specifically, The Base member Patrik Mathews, and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Today’s sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; United States Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division.
“Lemley, Mathews and others in The Base were assembling firearms and collecting thousands of rounds of ammunition with the intent to commit violence in furtherance of white nationalism and the downfall of the American state” said United States Attorney Erek L. Barron. “Detecting, disrupting, and deterring terrorist threats continues to be a top priority of the Justice Department. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will use all of the tools at our disposal to investigate and prosecute violent extremists.”
U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss stated, “Violence predicated on racial hatred lies at the core of the Base philosophy. Defendants embraced that philosophy and made preparations— through planning, training and manufacturing weapons—to execute that philosophy. These actions, designed to promote terror, deserve harsh punishment. Today’s sentence delivers that punishment.”
“Brian Lemley and Patrik Mathews betrayed their countries and forfeited their freedom when they conspired, with others, to attack and murder innocent civilians, children, police officers and federal agents. Today’s sentence ensures they never achieve those goals,” said Thomas J. Sobocinski, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “Identifying and disrupting terrorist plots, both foreign and domestic, is one of the FBI’s top priorities, and the round-the-clock teamwork with our partners saved innocent lives and kept Lemley and Mathews’ endgame of civil war out of reach.”
“These individuals had a mission to terrorize and harm innocent people, and destroy infrastructure to cause chaos, all in an effort to advance their White nationalist beliefs. They spent months obtaining firearms and ammunition in preparation to execute it,” said ATF Baltimore Acting Special Agent in Charge L.C. Cheeks, Jr. “ATF is proud to be part of FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force where we can lend our expertise in firearms and explosives investigations to the greater goal of identifying and preventing violent extremism. Strong partnerships between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are crucial in ensuring we stop these individuals, no matter what state or jurisdiction they are in.”
According to court filings, Lemley, Mathews, and Bilbrough were members of The Base, a racially motivated violent extremist group. Since 2018, The Base has built a coalition of white supremacist members within the United States and abroad through, among other things, online chat rooms, in-person meetings, propaganda, and military-style training. The Base’s accounts on social media repeatedly posted content promoting terrorism, lone-wolf attacks, and a white ethno-state.
As detailed in their plea agreements, Lemley and Bilbrough traveled in Lemley’s vehicle to participate in a regional training camp conducted by members of The Base in Georgia from August 2 through August 4, 2019, including participating in tactical training and firearms drills. Later in August, Lemley and Bilbrough attended another The Base training camp in a different state.
As detailed in the plea agreements for Lemley and Mathews, on August 19, 2019, the Winnipeg (Canada) Free Press published an article regarding one of its reporter’s infiltration of The Base that led to the identification of Mathews as a member of The Base. Mathews then fled Canada and illegally entered the United States. At some point thereafter, Lemley and Bilbrough learned that Mathews had unlawfully crossed the border.
On August 30, 2019, Lemley and Bilbrough traveled in Lemley’s truck from Maryland to southern Michigan to pick up Mathews in order to transport him to the East Coast where he could safely reside and continue his participation in The Base. Lemley later drove Mathews to the area of Chincoteague, Virginia, in order to conceal Mathews’ presence in the United States.
On Saturday, September 14, 2019, Lemley traveled in his vehicle from his residence in Elkton, Maryland, to Chincoteague Island, Virginia, where he picked up Mathews. Lemley and Mathews then traveled south, through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to Rome, Georgia, in the vicinity of the residence of a known member of The Base. Approximately five hours later, Lemley departed for Maryland and Mathews stayed at the Georgia property.
According to court documents, on October 30, 2019, Lemley and Bilbrough drove to Georgia to attend a training camp at the property of another member of The Base. Mathews, who was already residing at the Georgia property, also attended the training camp. While in Georgia, on November 2, 2019, Lemley and Bilbrough purchased approximately 1,550 rounds of 5.56 ammunition. Later that day, Lemley, Mathews and Bilbrough traveled from Georgia to Maryland. The next day, Lemley and Mathews dropped Bilbrough off at his house and traveled to Elkton, Maryland, where Mathews spent the night at a motel a few minutes from Lemley’s residence. On November 4, 2019, Lemley and Mathews rented an apartment in Newark, Delaware, where they resided until their arrests on January 16, 2020.
As detailed in the government’s sentencing memorandum, on December 13, 2019, law enforcement agents executed a court authorized delayed-notification search warrant of the Delaware residence. Agents located Base propaganda flyers, notes suggesting that Mathews had vetted an applicant to The Base, a large number of military style Meals-Ready-to-Eat (“MREs”), and obtained images of electronic devices. Agents found several videos of Mathews espousing violent, anti-Semitic, and racist language. Many of the videos discussed killing people in furtherance of “the movement.”
Intercepted communications obtained from a court-authorized closed circuit television camera and microphone installed in the Delaware residence and other evidence showed that the defendants believed that a pro-firearms rally in Richmond, Virginia on January 20 , 2020, would begin the collapse of the United States government, which white nationalists often refer to as the Boogaloo. After the November 2019 state elections both chambers of the Virginia legislature and the Governor were controlled by elected representatives from the Democratic Party. The defendants believed that the Democrats intended to use their power to pass a variety of gun control and other legislation anathema to the white nationalist cause. The defendants believed that at the rally on January 20, they and other like-minded confederates would begin systematically murdering and destroying to force the capitulation and demise of the U.S. government. The evidence showed that the defendants began preparing for the Virginia violence weeks before the scheduled rally.
According to their plea agreements, on December 20, 2019, Mathews took steps to construct a rifle out of various weapons parts and watched a video on his phone that provided directions on constructing the rifle. Lemley and Mathews also discussed the rifle and parts that needed to be obtained to finish constructing the rifle. Lemley and Mathews admitted that they held and manipulated the rifle.
On December 21, 2019, the defendants discussed the Virginia plan. They wanted to “create f*****g some instability while the Virginia situation is happening,” “derail some rail lines,” “…shut down the highways,” “shut down the rest of the roads,” and “kick off the economic collapse of the US within a week after the Boog starts.” Lemley stated, “I mean even if we don’t win, I would still be satisfied with a defeat of the system…”
The evidence further showed that on December 23, 2019, the defendants discussed murdering a law enforcement officer in order to obtain additional gear for the Virginia plan. For example, after Lemley discussed with Mathews what a good shot he was, “My shot group my grouping at 300 yards is an inch and a half…,” Lemley stated, “Guy is the guy is just like sitting there he just parked in his in his car and sitting in his in his driver’s seat and not moving he’s just sitting there…An all I have to do is is plink him right through the f*****g windshield…and everything is now mine.”
As detailed in court documents, on December 25, 2019, the defendants discussed killing guards at the federal prison in Indiana where a convicted mass murderer was being held, in order to break that person out of jail.
On December 26, 2019, the defendants continued discussing how Base members should take out power lines in Virginia and kill “the system.” Specifically, Mathews wanted Base members to “get to every single thing you can take out---power lines, everything. We need to f*****g escalate this and spread that idea and just say ‘f*****g bring the system down.’ When Virginia happens, we f*****g kill the system.”
Lemley and Mathews acknowledged that on December 29, 2019, they discussed visiting a gun range to test fire the newly constructed rifle. On January 2, 2020, Lemley took the rifle from the apartment in Delaware to a public gun range in Maryland, where he was observed by an FBI agent. On January 5, 2020, Mathews and Lemley left the Delaware residence with at least one firearm and went to the same public gun range previously visited by Lemley. Prior to their arrival, the FBI had set up a stationary camera in a vehicle near the range and an ATF agent was in the vicinity of the range. Agents observed, and the camera recorded, Mathews in possession of, and firing a firearm. Lemley observed Mathews’ shots through an unattached rifle scope.
Lemley admitted that on January 7, 2020, he ordered approximately 1,500 rounds of 5.56 mm and 6.5 mm ammunition, which fit two rifles possessed by Lemley and Mathews. On January 11, 2020, Lemley drove Mathews from their Delaware residence to the Maryland gun range they had visited previously. Mathews admitted that while at the range, he handled and fired the rifle. On the way back to Delaware, the men stopped at Lemley’s prior residence in Elkton, where they retrieved some of the 1,500 rounds of ammunition Lemley had ordered on January 7. Mathews admitted that he knew he was an alien illegally present in the United States at the times he possessed the firearm and ammunition in Maryland and Delaware.
As detailed in court documents, that same day, the defendants told an undercover FBI employee about what was happening in Virginia and that they “expected 60,000 militia to show up in the capitol” on January 20, 2020 and that they were “rolling for chaos.” Lemley further stated, “It’s just that we can’t live with ourselves if we don’t get somebody’s blood on our hands…” Later that day Lemley stated, “If we’re not ambushing feds, and we’ve got nothing better to do, we might as well go disable that infrastructure…” Per Lemley, “I’ll be kind of like on the ground in Richmond. Not in the front, but way int eh back, just kind of looking at things, seeing how things are going, and if it turns into a shoot-out, I’ll immediately retreat from the city and then start organizing all the people that are going to come and respond.” Lemley established the Shenandoah valley as the base camp.
On January 15, 2020, Lemley and Mathews had an extensive conversation about Virginia, including the possibility of going to jail for their conduct. During the conversation, Mathews told Lemley, "Right now, if I ever get captured, I am going to jail for the rest of my life. You realize they’re just gonna call us terrorists…."
Early in the morning on January 16, 2020, federal agents executed federal arrest warrants on Lemley and Mathews at the Delaware residence. Before Lemley and Mathews submitted to the agents, however, Lemley repeatedly directed Mathews to smash his cell phone. Lemley and Mathews smashed their cell phones and dumped them into the toilet. Lemley and Mathews admitted that by doing so, they intended to obstruct or impede the administration of justice with respect to the investigation, prosecution, and sentencing of their offenses. Their activity was fully captured on video and audio surveillance equipment installed in the Delaware residence, pursuant to a federal court order. From the residence, agents recovered two firearms, ammunition, magazines, radios, camping gear, tactical gear, and MREs.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron and United States Attorney David C. Weiss commended the FBI Baltimore Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the ATF for their work in the investigation, and thanked U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland State Police, and the Delaware State Police for their assistance. Mr. Barron and Mr. Weiss thanked their offices’ national security prosecutors, who are handling the case.
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