Courts & Crime

Alaska man plotted to kill federal judge and family

A Fairbanks man faces federal charges that he conspired to murder a U.S. District Court judge and the judge's family, according to federal prosecutors.

Federal agents, Alaska State Troopers and local police arrested five Fairbanks-area people Thursday, including 56-year-old Lonnie G. Vernon of Salcha. Vernon is the only one held on federal charges.

U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler says Vernon threatened to kill U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline and his family in retaliation for the judge's official duties.

If convicted, Vernon faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Vernon since 2009 has been in a court fight over federal taxes the government says he owes and federal attempts to seize his home to satisfy the debt.

Vernon's wife, Karen Vernon, is part of the tax case.

Troopers say the Vernons and three others -- Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, Coleman Barney, Michael Anderson -- collectively face felony conspiracy charges and weapons charges. They are scheduled for initial court appearances later today. Charging documents outlining the cases against each of them are expected to be made public later today.

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