Federal officials seized nearly four dozen high-powered guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition from the Hammond, Ind., home of a man charged in an alleged cop-killing sedition, painting a far different picture than the hard-working, family-loving man put forth by friends and family.
Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry denied bond for 46-year-old Thomas Piatek during a three-hour hearing on Wednesday and ordered him to remain in the custody of U.S. Marshals. He'll be transferred to Detroit to join eight other co-defendants in the case.
The ruling spawned disappointment from the family and friends who told the court that Piatek was incapable of violence and instead was a man who'd worked at the same trucking company for 17 years and who was the primary caregiver to a brother with schizophrenia.
"I've known him. He's part of the family. It's totally out of the question," his cousin, Mary Lou Danies, told reporters as she walked out of the courthouse.
"He's got a good heart. And what these guys say and do -- He was just up there to play "Army," said Piatek's friend, James Duha.
Piatek was arrested Sunday in Clarendon Hills, Ill., in a multistate FBI-led operation targeting the Hutaree, a Detroit-area militant group whose members have armed themselves and trained for a prophesied battle with the Antichrist.
Piatek and his eight co-defendants are charged in Detroit federal court with conspiring seditiously and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
Despite the evidence found in Piatek's home, which prosecutors said included 46 guns, 13,000 rounds of ammunition, a vehicle with a Hutaree bumper sticker, military fatigues with the Hutaree emblem on the shoulder and a Hutaree group photo with Piatek kneeling in the front row, his attorney said the Hammond man's background is inconsistent with someone who is anti-government and who would want to kill police.
"He's a member of the Whiting F.O.P. He's ridden in the Fourth of July parades with scouts," said attorney Jerry Flynn.
Federal authorities claim Hutaree members from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana planned a deadly trap in which militia members would murder a police officer, then ambush police attending that officer's funeral with makeshift bombs. Militia members expected that attack would provoke war with the government, prosecutors claim.