Two Members of the Violent Extremist Group “The Base” Plead Guilty to Federal Firearms and Alien-Related Charges
Lemley Helped Mathews Remain Illegally in the United States in Furtherance of his Participation in Violent Extremist Group; Defendants Constructed a Rifle, Collected Thousands of Rounds of Ammunition, and Trained at Gun Ranges and a Camp in Georgia
Greenbelt, Maryland – Two members of the racially motivated violent extremist group “The Base” pleaded guilty today to firearms and alien-related charges arising from federal charges in Maryland and Delaware.
Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., age 35, of Elkton, Maryland, and Newark, Delaware, 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 to 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, pleaded guilty to the Maryland and Delaware charges of being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition; to the Maryland charge of transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony; and to 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 guilty pleas were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; United States Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss; Acting Special Agent in Charge Rachel Byrd 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.
“Preserving our nation’s security against domestic terrorist threats continues to be a top priority of the Justice Department,” said Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “In late 2019 and early 2020, Lemley, Mathews and others in The Base were assembling firearms and collecting thousands of rounds of ammunition with the intent to engage in serious criminal conduct. There is simply no place in our country for racially motivated extremist groups that engage in violence. Our office and law enforcement partners in Maryland and Delaware will use all of the tools at our disposal to investigate and prosecute violent extremists.”
U.S. Attorney Weiss stated, “Detecting, disrupting and deterring the threat of domestic terrorism and violent extremism in all of its forms is a top priority for this office. However, mere membership in a violent extremist group like the Base, an organization that trades in hatred and bigotry, no matter how despicable, is not a federal crime. But when extremists like defendants Mathews and Lemley take action in furtherance of their twisted agenda and commit firearms offenses, obstruct justice and illegally transport aliens -- law enforcement will respond swiftly and decisively. I commend the diligence of Maryland and Delaware law enforcement in bringing these defendants to justice.”
“Today's admission of guilt shows how far Mr. Lemley and Mr. Mathews were willing to go to support extremist activity,” said Rachel Byrd, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “This investigation and the guilty plea underscore the continuing threat we face from domestic extremist groups. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain fully prepared to take actions necessary to safeguard our communities.”
“When extremist beliefs begin escalating into criminal activity, it creates a volatile and potentially lethal mentality that threatens everyone’s safety,” said ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones. “The strong partnerships ATF and our fellow local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have ensures that this team effort is always prepared to identify and stop extremists and violent offenders anytime, anywhere, no matter if they cross state lines and jurisdictions.”
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. 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 and Bilbrough remained in Michigan for approximately two hours, after which Lemley, Bilbrough, and Mathews headed back east. Lemley and Bilbough each drove at least part of the time and Bilbrough was dropped off at his house in Maryland on the evening of August 31, 2019. Lemley then 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.
Lemley acknowledged that on about October 30, 2019, he picked Bilbrough up at his residence and the two 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, admitted that he 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 admitted that they 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.
As detailed in Lemley’s and Mathews’ plea agreements, on November 4, 2019, Mathews left the motel on foot. After buying food from a nearby restaurant, Mathews walked into the woods behind the restaurant, where he remained until Lemley picked him up. Lemley and Mathews drove to a bank and then to an apartment complex in Newark, Delaware, where Lemley rented an apartment while Mathews remained in the vehicle. Thereafter, Lemley and Mathews primarily resided in the apartment in Delaware.
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.
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.
On January 15, 2020, Lemley and Mathews discussed the possibility of going to jail for their conduct. During the conversation, Lemley told Mathews, "I may be going to jail upon discovery of the propaganda in my cell phone."
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.
Lemley and Mathews each face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony offense and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for obstruction of justice. Lemley also faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison each for transporting and for harboring certain aliens; a maximum of 10 years in federal prison each for conspiracy to transport certain aliens, for disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an illegal alien, and for aiding and abetting an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Mathews also faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for each of two counts of being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for Mathews on October 28, 2021 at 9:30 a.m., and for Lemley on October 28, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner 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. Lenzner and Mr. Weiss thanked their offices’ national security prosecutors, who are handling the case.
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