4 more charged in plot to steal ammo from Fairchild Air Force base

They are accused of allowing the theft of thousands of rounds of ammunition for an AR-15 rifle.

Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane.

Associated Press

SPOKANE — An Air Force staff sergeant facing allegations of making violent, antigovernment statements online before stealing ammunition from Fairchild Air Force Base has pleaded not guilty to additional crimes in federal court in Spokane.

John I. Sanger, 30, is one of six servicemembers named in an indictment handed down this week by a federal grand jury, charging them with crimes including theft of government property, possession of stolen ammunition and possession of an unregistered firearm.

The Spokesman-Review reported that authorities were first alerted to Sanger by social media posts he allegedly made between the 2020 presidential election and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The poster, using the moniker “problematicpatriot,” expressed the belief that the election system had been “defrauded” and “people have to die.”

Sanger appeared briefly in court Thursday to answer the new charges, with a potential penalty of up to a decade in federal prison. He waived his right to a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Goeke to argue for release pending trial and was returned to the Spokane County Jail.

Staff Sgt. Eric Eagleton, 29, who was also arrested last week, appeared before Goeke on Tuesday and was released from custody, over the objection of federal prosecutors. He is charged in the grand jury indictment with five criminal counts, including possession of an unregistered firearm. According to the indictment, federal authorities executing a search warrant found a “firearm suppressor,” a device intended to quiet the sound of gunfire, without a serial number as required by federal law.

In a criminal complaint filed last month, an undercover Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent who was wearing a wire recorded Eagleton discussing “his anti-Semitic views and dislike for Jews.” Sanger, who was also present at the meeting in March, told Eagleton he enjoyed meeting other individuals who “hated the government and the military,” according to the complaint.

The indictment also names Shawn Robson, 40; Nathan Richards, 25; Jonah Pierce, 25; and Austin Limacher, 28. The men, identified as working either in the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance center on the base or at its armory, are accused of helping to falsify documents allowing the theft of thousands of rounds of green-tipped, 5.56 mm ammunition for an AR-15 rifle.

The criminal complaint indicated the stolen ammunition originated at Richards’ residence in Airway Heights. Authorities also say they found rounds “consistent with the stolen ammunition” at the residences of all six defendants.

Robson, Pierce and Limacher were listed in documents as continuing to live in the area. Richards had been reassigned in early April to Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada.

Appointed attorneys for the defendants either declined comment or did not return requests for comment, the newspaper reported.

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