From the April 2008 Idaho Observer:

Freeman released—with conditions—by original trial and sentencing judge

BILLINGS. Mont.—U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ordered the release of John Patrick McGuire, 70, at a resentencing hearing here March 24, 2008. McGuire was one of the Montana Freemen sent to prison as a result of the infamous 81-day standoff at Justice Township in 1995.

Three juries refused to convict the Freemen. It took a fourth jury in the court of visiting Judge Coughenour from Seattle in 1998 to convict the "Montana 7" for, in essence, declaring their sovereignty, creating their own currency and deciding not to recognize federal authority in the state of Montana.

McGuire was convicted on six counts of what was referred to as a "massive bad-check writing scheme" and his role in an altercation with a trespassing TV news production crew during which the crew’s camera was confiscated by the Freemen. At his original sentencing, Coughenour gave McGuire five years for "bank fraud and armed robbery (of the news crew camera that was not stolen) and an additional 10 years for carrying a banned assault-style firearm during the "robbery."

At a hearing in Missoula, February 22, 2008, Montana District Federal Judge Don Molloy ruled that the Norinko SKS was not a "semi-automatic assault weapon," vacated the 10-year sentence and remanded the case back to Coughenour for resentencing.

McGuire has stated that his attorney failed to argue the point adequately at trial knowing the gun charge was bogus and that federal prosecutors also knew that the firearm McGuire had was not on the federal list of banned assault weapons.

The resentencing hearing, which lasted less than an hour, resulted in Coughenour ordering McGuire’s immediate release for time served, but also ordered that McGuire be subject to five years of "supervised release" during which time he is not to engage in any "anti-government activity."

McGuire had been in custody, behind bars, since 1996. McGuire was a free man six hours after his release was ordered. "It was sure good to eat a steak, drink a beer and sleep on a mattress that doesn’t have a steel plate under it," McGuire commented

McGuire’s release was timely. Last May he collapsed in the yard in the federal pen in Adelanto, CA and nearly died. It was later found out that his body was loaded with 200 times the safe level of aluminum and was taking BOP doctor-prescribed heart medication contraindicated for elevated aluminum.

After weeks in a near coma and after being moved to the Bureau of Prisons "medical facility" in Butner, NC, McGuire recovered and slowly regained strength. He is now blind in one eye and does not see too good out of the other. At resentencing, McGuire explained that his conviction was the result of a conviction-obsessed government and ineffective counsel and that he has a variety of serious health problems caused by malnutrition, systemic poisoning, medical malpractice and medical neglect incurred while in the custody of the U.S. government.

Coughenour said that McGuire’s comments almost caused him to change his mind, but shortened the gun sentence to five years and entered the release order effective immediately. "I hope that sentence will restore your faith in the American justice system," Judge Coughenour said.

McGuire is currently living with his sister and his first order of business is to restore his health.