Tina Stone places husband David Stone Sr.’s wedding band on his finger Friday outside the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit. The FBI returned the militia leader’s belongings, including military-style vests. / Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
The FBI returned military-style gear, credit cards, a watch and a wedding ring Friday to the leader of a Michigan militia who was acquitted last month of conspiring to rebel against the government.
David Stone Sr. and his wife, Tina, parked a pickup and trailer outside the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit and met FBI employees who rolled out several boxes seized during raids in Lenawee County in March 2010.
The Stones and five other Hutaree militia members were acquitted last month of conspiring to wage war against the government and use weapons of mass destruction. David Stone, who had been locked up without bail for two years, pleaded guilty to a gun charge and was released.
Stone, 51, was especially pleased to get his wedding ring, which his wife slowly slipped on to his finger at the back of the trailer. “About time,” he said.
Much of the gear is military-style vests and accessories that were worn by militia members when they trained in the woods of southern Michigan. Tina Stone joked that they might sell it on eBay.
The FBI recorded hundreds of hours of video and audio, including anti-government rants by Stone and others.
After six weeks of trial, however, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts dismissed most charges, saying there might have been “something fishy” going on but that prosecutors had failed to show a plot to use force against the government.
Tina and David Stone are living with family in Hillsdale County and don’t plan to return to Lenawee County, their former home and the site of militia training.
“I’m not bitter,” he said of the government’s undercover investigation, criminal charges and two years in jail. “This is what happens when big government gets out of control and steamrolls people.”
Steve Haug, an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the militia, served as best man at the Stones’ wedding in 2009. Tina Stone joked that they should renew their marriage vows and have Haug sign the license again.
“We want him to sign his real name,” she said.