By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
But Griesacker, who was captured on videotape instructing a packed room of ROT members how to create a financial "clearinghouse" with bank-like functions in order to "monetize" the Republic's assets--i.e., create fake money--is not a defendant in McLaren's case. Indeed, until just two weeks ago, Griesacker had never been arrested on any charges related to bank fraud or anti-government activity, even though dozens of his former associates are facing charges for these offenses. According to an investigator for the Shawnee County district attorney who has tracked Griesacker for three years now, the enigmatic Griesacker, on several occasions, disappeared weeks--sometimes just days--before the federal government swooped down on militant anti-government groups.
In his opening statements on March 5, prosecutor Uhl told the jury that he didn't even know the whereabouts of Griesacker. He'd already told Mills that Griesacker was not, to his knowledge, a government informant. But at the same time, he objected to giving Mills access to the entire FBI file on Griesacker. The prosecutor offered large parts of the file in camera--for the judge's eyes only--arguing that "further disclosure would interfere with enforcement proceedings and disclose investigative techniques," according to a court document.
A little more than a week after Uhl's opening statements in Dallas, a federal grand jury in Wichita, Kansas, issued an indictment of Griesacker, alleging that he'd presented worthless paper to a bank in January 1996 to cover a debt owed by another man. Then on March 20, Secret Service agents, who have jurisdiction in matters related to possible counterfeiting, arrested Griesacker in a small rural community about 30 miles from Medford, Oregon.
Federal marshals delivered Griesacker to Dallas last weekend. He appeared in a hearing Wednesday and delivered a blast of legal doublespeak, referring to the courtroom as an "alleged courtroom" and the ROT members as "alleged defendants." When U.S. District Judge Joe Fish asked if he would testify, Griesacker said he'd do so only if his "sovereign judicial diplomatic immunity" were granted, and if forced by "threat, duress, and coercion."
"I would very seriously doubt that the court wants to hear my testimony anyway or wants the jury to hear it," Griesacker said. "Because if it does, the case is dead."
Griesacker was expected to testify later in the week.
Even if Griesacker claims he's a government informant, Mills concedes he probably won't be able to persuade the judge to instruct jury members to consider the possibility of entrapment when they deliberate. But the defense attorney does believe he will leave the jury with the impression that the government has selectively chosen to prosecute some people--such as McLaren--while leaving others on the street. (When the jury was left with a similar impression at Terry Nichols' trial, it helped his defense.)
But no matter what the jury decides in McLaren's trial, Griesacker's alleged role in the Republic of Texas' funny-money schemes raises puzzling questions. Though Griesacker clearly has criminal exposure in the ROT case--according to a federal source involved in the investigation--how has he managed to stay on the street so long? Has the federal government simply failed to gather enough evidence to prosecute him? Or is there another explanation, as Mills suggests--one that raises suspicions about why the federal government might give Griesacker free rein to spread his anti-government gospel and enable him to defraud banks and businesses without much fear of prosecution?
A court document confirms that, two years ago, some agency issued a warrant for Griesacker's arrest, although a copy of that warrant is no longer part of the public record. It is under seal, according to the U.S. attorney in Wichita, Kansas. Why wasn't Griesacker picked up on that charge? What happened to that investigation?
"After a while coincidence becomes suspect," says Mike Tharp, a West Coast correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, who has covered anti-government groups extensively and met with Griesacker.
Suzanne James, the director of victim services for the District Attorney's Office in Shawnee County, Kansas, has been following Griesacker for three years and believes the U.S. attorney in Wichita has blown earlier opportunities to prosecute him. "The feds have gotten into this mess by being extremely timid in their prosecution," James says. (Jackie Williams, the U.S. attorney in Wichita, responds to such criticism by pointing to the federal indictment handed down on March 11. "That speaks for itself," his spokeswoman told the Dallas Observer.)
Joel Dyer, author of Harvest of Rage, a recently published book about anti-government groups, has also met Griesacker, but says he is a legitimate activist--a true believer.
"Usually the agents are not as smart as Griesacker, and they have polished shoes," Dyer says. "He was too odd to be an agent. He'd go in and out of rages. It would have to have been a really good act."
But Dyer does believe Griesacker still might serve some sort of government purpose. "Griesacker has shown up in a lot of places where others have gone down," Dyer says. "Is it a sting operation if the government leaves someone on the street?"
A look into Griesacker's past turns up some contradictory information. (Prison officials and federal marshals would not allow the Observer to interview Griesacker in Dallas.) Over the years, legal documents have referred to him as Ronald Griesacker, Arthur Laycock, Robert Patrick, Arthur Alexander Augustus, and even just Arthur.