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4 Defiant 'Freemen' Are Sentenced for Role in FBI Standoff

June 06, 1998|Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — Four "freemen" who refused to walk into court were forcibly rolled into the room in wheelchairs Friday and sentenced to prison for their part in the anti-government group's 1996 standoff with the FBI.

A fifth who agreed to come to court was freed.

The four who refused to go to court--Steven C. Hance, 48; his sons, James E. Hance, 25, and John R. Hance, 21; and Jon Barry Nelson, 42--were found guilty of being accessories after the fact to the armed holdup of an NBC television news crew.

The Hances also were convicted of being fugitives in possession of firearms. They are charged with assaulting an officer in North Carolina.

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour handed the longest term, 78 months, to Steven Hance, who entered the courtroom shouting that he is not a U.S. citizen and that the court had no jurisdiction.

Nelson drew 71 months. John Hance got 63 months and James, 67 months. Elwin Ward, 57, of Murray, Utah, was convicted of submitting a false claim to the IRS and using one of the freemen's bogus checks. He was released for time served since his arrest, 21 months.

The trial of 12 other freemen is underway separately.

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