• Retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander says he has evidence to prove friend is innocent
By Pat Shannan
Readers of AMERICAN FREE PRESS will remember the series of articles run on these pages in 2010-11 concerning the plight of the Monroe County, Tennessee man who tried to expose fraud in the local court and grand jury system. Instead, United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Walter Fitzpatrick (Ret.) found himself jailed for trying to perform a citizen’s arrest when the cops wouldn’t enforce their own laws.
According to the man who started it all, the following federal attack on him and Darren Huff of Dallas, Georgia, in the small Tenn. town of Madisonville, was just one more Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provocation, and he now has the evidence to prove it.
“Darren Huff is an innocent man in jail for four years for a crime that never happened,” said Fitzpatrick.
When interested citizens came to Madisonville on April 20, 2010 for a court hearing on the Fitzpatrick matter, Huff was followed from north Ga. by the FBI, detained at the interstate exit by state and local law enforcement and released after agreeing to lock his legally-registered rifle and handgun in the toolbox of his pickup truck. No arrest was made and Huff proceeded peacefully into town. The police saw that the supporters were not there to provoke violence but to stand up for a fellow American who was being wronged by the system.
“The FBI saw it as another invitation to create a crime where none existed,” said Fitzpatrick. He proved his point with Special Agent Mark Van Balen’s sworn affidavit on April 26.
Even though video shows Huff being determined not to be a security risk by the Tenn. authorities and released, six days later Van Balen swore out an affidavit “full of lies and deception,” according to Fitzpatrick, including Huff’s alleged threats to “make arrests on various individuals, that he was ready to die for his rights and that if they didn’t have enough people on April 20 to do all they planned to do that day, that they would be back in one to two weeks.”
Huff has repeatedly denied making any such outrageous statements, and Van Balen even admits in his affidavit that he never heard anything provocative from Huff.
Van Balen claims that Huff was heard making threats at the traffic stop by a Lt. Don Williams of the Drug Task Force and these were passed on to him. Van Balen makes no claims of personal knowledge as to any lawbreaking by Huff. In fact, court testimony showed that Huff was under FBI surveillance from the night of April 19. Huff was followed when he left home at 4 a.m. and was watched all day. There was never a moment when the FBI did not know where Huff was during that 24-hour period, and he was never a threat to anyone.
Fitzpatrick told AFP that he has located and interviewed 31 of the 33 people known to have been on the scene that morning outside of the Monroe County courthouse. None of the 31 was armed or even saw anyone other than law enforcement officers armed. The other two were a Knoxville news reporter and cameramen who refused to identify themselves when Fitzpatrick asked them to do so.
Not one of the 31 citizens was approached and questioned by any of the 150 law enforcement officers on the scene as to whether or not they were armed. Fitzpatrick has collected statements from all 31. It was a peaceful assembly.
“Furthermore,” said Fitzpatrick, “Darren Huff not only was unarmed the whole time but he spent his morning at Donna’s Old Town Café across the street and the only time he briefly set foot on the courthouse property was to take sausage biscuits and coffee to officers standing there. However, my hearing was being held four blocks away at a separate courthouse building unknown to Huff, and he was never there.
“Federal officials not only successfully prosecuted and convicted a U.S. citizen for a thought crime,” added Fitzpatrick, “but the only one with the thought was the fantasizing FBI agent.”
Huff is more than a year into serving a four-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas. He is still waiting for his attorney, Gerald Gulley of Knoxville, to file his appeal. Gulley did not return AFP’s calls.
Fitzpatrick cites a little known FBI program known as “Operation Vigilant Eagle” that involves surveillance of veterans who express views critical of the government. This includes those who discuss a pending revolution on the Internet.
“Anybody in America who stands up for the rights of American citizens as outlined by the Constitution is being targeted and jailed by the federal government,” he said.
This case is significant and chilling because the FBI has prepared it to stifle dissent.
In their slick description of it on their website, they brag that “Huff was sentenced to four years in prison for transporting firearms across state lines with the intent to cause a civil disorder. It was the first time this violation was successfully prosecuted.”
Case Agent Scott Johnson, of the Knoxville FBI Division, stated that “This case is monumental to the FBI because it will set precedent for case law in future domestic terrorism cases throughout the United States.”
Pat Shannan is an AFP contributing editor and the author of several best-selling videos and books.