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North Idaho militia leader pleads guilty to weapons charges

by David Cole
| November 27, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - A North Idaho man with militia ties - who has said President Obama should be dead - has pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempting to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., who lives near Spirit Lake, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court this week before Judge Edward J. Lodge. He faces up to 10 years in prison at a sentencing scheduled for Feb. 22.

"There was no plea deal," said assistant U.S. attorney Traci Whelan.

Kimbley has been released from custody with electronic home monitoring.

Kimbley is prohibited from possessing firearms because he was convicted of felony aggravated assault in Kootenai County in 2004. Court documents say Kimbley sold an undercover federal agent a Ruger brand .22-caliber handgun. The agent also said Kimbley had an AK-47 with an electronic sight attached to it, a Browning shotgun, a Dragunov sniper rifle, and a handgun.

Kimbley and Steven E. Winegar, both in their 50s, were taken into custody in July after a federal investigation into illegal explosives led to the seizure of firearms, 20,000 rounds of ammunition, and components to make hand grenades. Winegar, of Harpster, Idaho, faces a similar firearms charge.

An undercover federal agent said Kimbley described himself as the leader of the "Brotherhood of American Patriots," or "BAP Militia," and talked about bombing local bridges and made threatening statements toward the president. Kimbley has lived in the North Idaho community for more than 30 years, and most recently was working for 3T Trucking.

In a prior hearing in the case, an FBI agent testified in federal court that the militia group conducted patrol training in Grangeville, and ambush training in the Spirit Lake-Rathdrum area.

The agent told the court that Winegar believed it was imminent that Chinese or Russian troops or both were going to be invading the U.S. and would be attacking Americans.

Kimbley has said he's the leader of the militia group, according to a transcript of that testimony. The militia exists in part "to resist in the event that the government starts rounding up Patriots and putting them in concentration camps," according to a court transcript of the agent's testimony.

The group also could resist against foreign invasion. In the case of a "natural disaster or other world events that would cause chaos and the breakdown of society, then the militia would have a means to resist in that they had prepared physically, by training, and by collecting weapons and ammunition and equipment."

Winegar participated in training with BAP and attended meetings when militia business was discussed, according to the transcript.

Kimbley also bragged to an undercover agent about booby traps he had built using nails that would be driven into an unsuspecting victim's legs or trip wires and grenades.

Kimbley's public defender, Kim Deater, wrote in court documents that Kimbley is a nonthreatening man who has passionate political views, and that he "made absolutely no threats to harm anyone at anytime."

"In fact," Deater wrote, "everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, (Fox News) TV commentator Glenn Beck, typically states on the air and is protected free speech."

Deater said Kimbley was "frequently baited" by the undercover agent, but that Kimbley and his friends "simply discussed their concerns of a communist takeover and the need to be prepared to defend themselves and the country if in fact a takeover occurred."

Winegar has been on house arrest in Harpster. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 25.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report

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