NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

National News

April 5, 2010

Militia group member allegedly aimed truck at police car in 1990

CHICAGO — An Indiana man charged last month with plotting with other militia members to murder police officers allegedly drove a tractor-trailer into the path of a police car two decades ago.

Thomas Piatek, 46, of Hammond, was southbound when he "abruptly veered" over a raised median in Homewood, Ill., flashed on his high beams and drove directly into the path of a northbound marked police car on May 14, 1990, a police report shows.

"I thought you were one of those (expletive) jag-offs with the bright lights on all the time," Piatek allegedly told the Homewood officer, who swerved to avoid the truck, then made a U-turn and arrested him. The squad car's high beams were on at the time.

Piatek, who has driven for a Chicago company for 17 years, pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault charge and was sentenced to one year of court supervision, the records show.

The Indiana man is one of the nine alleged members of the Hutaree militia group recently arrested on sedition and weapons charges. Piatek was part of the group's inner circle and had joined in a plot to kill police officers using improvised explosive devices, the charges alleged.

Federal agents seized 46 guns and thousands of rounds of large-caliber ammunition from Piatek's home along with a copy of Adolf Hitler's "My New Order," a samurai sword, a jeweled dagger, military uniforms and four bottles of grenade smoke.

Piatek's attorney has called him a model citizen. His family and friends said he was a lifelong gun collector who liked "playing army."

But prosecutors allege the group was deadly serious. Last week, they played back part of a recorded speech given by Hutaree's leader, David Stone.

"How much longer are you going to put up with a foreign army controlling your streets and highways?" a transcript quoted Stone as saying. "Now it's time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny. Time is up."

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