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Press Release

Keebler Pleads Guilty To Attempted Destruction Of Federal Property By Use Of An Explosive

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – William Keebler, age 59, of Stockton, Utah, indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2016 in what the charges alleged was an attempt to damage or destroy a federal buildings managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, has pleaded guilty.

Keebler pleaded guilty to a one-count Felony Information filed Thursday morning charging him with attempted destruction of federal property by use of an explosive in U.S. District Judge David Sam’s courtroom Thursday morning.   Keebler admitted that between June 20, 2016, and June 22, 2016, he traveled from Tooele County, Utah, to Mount Trumbull in an attempt to damage or destroy a federal facility managed by the BLM.  He agreed that he attempted to detonate an explosive in order to damage the BLM structure.

According to a complaint filed in the case, Keebler served as the commander of a citizen militia group called the Patriots Defense Force, headquartered in Stockton, Utah.  He was present during the Bunkerville, Nevada, standoff involving the BLM in 2014.

The Utah case followed an extensive investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and its partner agencies. 

“Thanks to the professionalism and expertise of the FBI and its partner law enforcement agencies, we were able to detect a serious criminal threat and bring a successful prosecution,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.  “We are pleased with the outcome of this priority case,” Huber said.

“Protecting our country and its citizens from terrorist attacks is the FBI’s highest priority.  This case illustrates our commitment to dealing with individuals who attempt violent acts against the government and wish to bring harm to the public,” said Eric Barnhart, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Salt Lake City Field Office.  “This case is the result of the great work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which brings together federal, state and local agencies together to keep our communities safe.”

The plea agreement includes a stipulated prison sentence between 12 months and one day, up to 70 months.  The sentence is subject to the approval of the court.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 9, 2018, at 3 p.m. in Judge Sam’s courtroom.

Huber says federal prosecutors look forward to presenting their sentencing arguments at the hearing and will advocate for a sentence at the high end of the sentencing range included in the plea agreement.  Keebler has been in federal custody since his arrest after the court determined he was a danger to the community.

Updated April 30, 2018

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