From the January 2001 Idaho Observer:

Pitner released; Brown to serve six more months

by Jeff Coder

SEATTLE -- John Pitner was released from the Federal Detention Center just south of Sea Tac Airport here January 5, 2001. Although never officially sentenced (The Idaho Observer, October, 2000) he was released with “time served” and given three years parole. His release is classified as “supervised release” though the terms of supervision are unknown at this time.

Pitner, 48, has been held prisoner since 1997 though he never actually received a trial and was never formally charged with a crime. Federal agents arrested Pitner for allegedly being a militia leader who sold illegal weapons and taught people how to make bombs.

Thomas Brown was also arrested at the same time Pitner was arrested. Brown was also scheduled to be released January 5 but was given an additional six months. U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour justified the additional time by recounting problems that Brown had with the IRS nearly a decade ago along with some contempt of court charges from a Federal court in Alaska.

Federal prosecutor Susan Dohrman and Judge Cougenhour tried to get Brown to agree to an IRS repayment plan. Brown defiantly told the judge, “Either I'm a free man or I'm not. If I have to repay the IRS money that I don't owe then I'm not a free man. Even though you might release me from prison I still wouldn't be free.”

Judge Cougenhour then sentenced Brown to serve the additional time. When he is released, he will be free of all IRS charges.

Judge Cougenhour told Brown that he was the most stubborn man he has ever seen in his entire life. Brown responded by saying that he is standing up for the principles that he believes in and he will not compromise his principles by agreeing to the rules of a release agreement that compromises his liberty as an American citizen. He further stated that he is innocent of all the charges that he was incarcerated for and, therefore, cannot with clear conscience participate in or agree to the rules of the proposed release agreement.

Personal note: If you could have seen this guy you would have loved him! I can't recall everything he said word for word but the general gist of the matter is that he basically told Judge Cougenhour exactly what he thought of the corruption in the U.S. government and where they can stick it! I admire Brown for standing up and telling the judge that he will not participate in the corruption of the U.S. government and the judicial system. Even though it cost him an extra six months in prison, it was beautiful to watch him defy the court. Patrick Henry would be proud.

When I first arrived in the courtroom I said a silent prayer for John Pitner and asked the Lord to give the judge the courage and the guidance to do the right thing and let John go free.

My prayer was answered. John's father has pancreatic cancer and is in very frail health. I am glad that John will be able to spend some time with his father before he passes away.

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