U.S. prosecutors want former Manitoba reservist sentenced to 25 years
Court documents reveal FBI case against Patrik Mathews and co-accused
American prosecutors want former Manitoba reservist Patrik Mathews and his co-accused, Brian Lemley Jr., sentenced to 25 years in prison, saying they were working toward a civil war that would "decimate racial and ethnic minorities and subjugate women."
"The defendants joined forces with each other and others, studied violence, tested their weapons skills, stockpiled munitions and supplies and planned to kill on a large scale in pursuit of their goals," prosecutors wrote in the government's 45-page memorandum in aid of sentencing, filed in Maryland District Court last week.
The prosecution filed dozens of exhibits to support its recommendation, including audio and video tapes and transcripts. They reveal the depth of the case against the two men.
The defence documents were also filed Thursday, but have been sealed. Neither lawyer could be reached for comment.
In June, 28-year-old Mathews, an alleged recruiter for a white supremacist group called The Base, changed his plea to guilty in a number of different charges in the U.S. states of Maryland and Delaware, including possessing and transporting a firearm with intent to commit a felony and obstruction of justice — for destroying cell phones when FBI agents raided the apartment shared by Mathews and Lemley.
Lemley, a U.S. army veteran who served in Iraq, pleaded guilty to charges including illegally transporting a firearm and obstruction of justice.
A third co-defendant, William Bilbrough IV, has already been sentenced to five years in prison. He pleaded guilty in December to helping Mathews illegally enter the U.S. from Canada in 2019.
FBI case revealed
Mathews was identified as a recruiter for The Base after an undercover investigation by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe.
The court documents reveal that when the RCMP executed a search warrant at his Beausejour residence on Aug. 19, 2019, they found a handwritten list of mass shootings in a trash can, which included the year, number of dead and whether the shooter was on medication.
Mathews disappeared and court documents indicate he met up with Lemley and Bilbrough in southern Michigan.
Sometime around Sept. 1, 2019, Lemley, posting on an encrypted messaging platform under the name Cantgoback, advised other Base members that "the objective has been reached."
Mathews, using the moniker PunishedSnake1488, was then added to the group chat.
Mathews, Lemley and other members of The Base conducted a paramilitary training camp in Georgia starting on Sept. 14, 2019, where they did tactical training and firearms drills. Lemley had already been identified as attending a previous camp.
In a photo taken on their way to Georgia, Mathews is wearing a Hawaiian shirt — a type of shirt often worn by white nationalists hoping for the collapse of the United States government, which they often refer to as the Boogaloo.
At the end of another training camp in October 2019 — which was attended by an undercover FBI agent — the members posed for photos wearing tactical gear and balaclava hoods. The photos were later used for propaganda by The Base, which has espoused using violence to accelerate overthrowing the U.S. government.
In November 2019, Lemley and Mathews rented an apartment in Newark, Del., where FBI agents later conducted what's known as a "sneak-and-peek" warrant.
We'll give them bad guys. We will give them white supremacist terrorists, if that's what they want. Give them what they want. Give them what they deserve.- Patrik Mathews, Nov. 13, 2019
Agents found Base propaganda flyers, handwritten notes suggesting Mathews had vetted another applicant to the group and videos of Mathews "espousing violent, anti-Semitic and racist language."
For example, in one video, dated Nov. 13, 2019, Mathews talks about his belief that antifa protesters needed to become subject to "assassination."
"These people . . . make us out to be evil incarnate. We're the bad guys according to them. I think it's time we became the bad guys. I think it's time that we decided to stop putting up with things we should not put up with. I think it's time," Mathews said in the video.
"They want bad guys so bad, they can have it. We'll give them bad guys. We will give them white supremacist terrorists, if that's what they want. Give them what they want. Give them what they deserve."
Many of the videos discuss killing people to benefit "the movement." In one of them, Mathews is wearing a gas mask and attempting to distort his voice.
In December 2019, FBI officers got court orders authorizing the installation of a closed-circuit television camera and microphone in the apartment.
Agents captured conversations discussing acts of terrorism in connection with a planned gun rally in Virginia in January 2020. They included killing a police officer and the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. They shared their plans with other members of The Base.
On Jan. 16, 2020, federal agents arrested Mathews and Lemley. Before they submitted, though, they smashed their cell phones and dumped them into the toilet.
Within days, authorities in Georgia and Wisconsin arrested four other men linked to The Base.
'They are domestic terrorists'
Mathews and Lemley do not face terrorism-related charges, but prosecutors are seeking a so-called terrorism enhancement that could lead to a significant increase in a prison term.
"All of the defendants' offenses involved, or were intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism," the court document says as part of its justification for the requested 25-year sentences, followed by three-year terms of supervised release.
"A defendant who intends to promote a federal crime of terrorism has not necessarily completed, attempted, or conspired to commit the crime; instead the phrase implies that the defendant has as one purpose of his substantive count of conviction or his relevant conduct the intent to promote a federal crime of terrorism," the document says.
"The defendants pose a severe risk to public safety. They are domestic terrorists and should be sentenced accordingly."
Mathews and Lemley will be sentenced in Maryland on Oct. 28.
Mathews faces separate charges for what is described as the ritual beheading of an animal during a paramilitary training camp in Georgia.