Minn. Nat. Guard Member Charged with Stealing IDs for Militia

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A member of the Minnesota National Guard and self-described commander of a militia group was charged Wednesday with stealing names, Social Security numbers and security clearance levels of roughly 400 members of his former Army unit in Fort Bragg, N.C., so he could make fake IDs for his militia members.

According to a federal complaint and affidavit obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Keith Michael Novak, 25, of Maplewood, threatened to use violence if authorities came to arrest him.

“I’ve my AK in my bed. If I hear that door kick, it’s going boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I’m just going to start putting them through the (expletive) wall,” he told an undercover FBI employee in July, according to the affidavit unsealed Wednesday.

Novak was charged with committing fraud in connection with identification documents. He was in federal custody Wednesday and unavailable for comment. His father has an unlisted number, and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. The federal defender’s office has the case, but an attorney had not been selected to represent him by Wednesday evening.

According to an FBI affidavit, Novak was an active duty soldier and intelligence analyst with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg from Feb. 26, 2009, to Sept. 3, 2012. He also served in active duty in Iraq in 2010. Novak is currently a human intelligence analyst with the Minnesota National Guard.

In late January, he went to a training camp in Utah and there met two undercover FBI employees who posed as members of a Utah-based militia, according to the affidavit. It also said Novak told the undercover employees that he took classified materials from Fort Bragg and that he would share the materials with them.

The undercover employees met Novak in Minnesota in July, and he gave them an electronic copy of classified documents and taught them how to encrypt files, the affidavit said. He also said that he had a personnel roster — including names, birthdates and Social Security numbers — of a “Battalion’s-worth of people” from his former unit.

The undercover employees said they wanted that information and knew someone who could make fake IDs, which Novak said he needed for his militia. On Nov. 4, Novak sent the information for 44 individuals to an undercover FBI employee. On Nov. 25, he accepted $2,000 and said he had additional pages to sell, the affidavit said.

Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said the guard is aware of the charges, and is cooperating with the FBI investigation.

Lt. Col. Virginia McCabe, spokeswoman for the 82nd Airborne Division, said the unit will work with the appropriate authorities.

The affidavit also sheds light on some of Novak’s militia activities. In September, Novak and members of his militia group conducted a military-style field training exercise in rural Minnesota.

On one occasion, a man went to a storage unit with Novak and saw six “flak vests” that belonged to the 82nd Airborne Division. The affidavit alleged Novak stole the vests when unit members left them unattended. Novak had also previously given 10 flak jackets to members of his militia, the affidavit said.

He told the man with him that he also had camouflage netting and riot gear and intended to start burying caches of equipment.

The complaint and affidavit were initially sealed because Novak had made several statements that suggest he might flee or resort to violence.

In July, he allegedly spoke to an undercover employee about escape routes and said he would barricade himself in his apartment and call “my guys” to come help. He also said that he had “5000 rounds, a thousand of it is in magazines, ready to go,” the affidavit said.

Novak also told the undercover employee that he sleeps with guns and was ready to shoot through the wall, the affidavit said, and has weapons hiding throughout the state.

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