Margot Sanger-Katz

Concord Monitor

The federal jury that found two men guilty of aiding and arming Plainfield tax protesters Ed and Elaine Brown found a third man guilty of helping the couple escape arrest.

But jurors, who began deliberating Monday, could not reach a verdict on all the counts.

Cirino Gonzalez of Alice, Texas, was found guilty of helping the Browns evade capture and of conspiring with others to prevent U.S. marshals from arresting the couple, who fled tax evasion convictions and holed up in their fortified home for nearly nine months.

During the standoff, the Browns accumulated guns, bombs and stockpiles of food and issued repeated threats against federal authorities.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a second, similar conspiracy charge and on a charge that Gonzalez used weapons to help prolong the standoff.

Judge George Singal asked jurors yesterday whether the jury was deadlocked on those counts, and he declared a mistrial after jurors indicated that they would not be able to agree on a verdict. The guilty verdicts stand, and prosecutors may try Gonzalez again on the remaining counts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold Huftalen, one of two prosecutors who brought the case, said yesterday that his office had not yet decided whether to retry Gonzalez.

“We’re looking at it,” he said.

Huftalen declined to answer additional questions about Gonzalez’s case because it may continue.

David Bownes, Gonzalez’s attorney, declined to answer questions about the verdict.

Gonzalez, a former military contractor and naval weapons expert, lived with the Browns for nearly three months and helped spread information about the couple’s situation on the internet.

Prosecutors showed the jury evidence that Gonzalez had purchased a high-powered .50-caliber rifle while he was living in Plainfield, and several photographs and videos shot at the Browns’ showed Gonzalez holding other weapons.

But Gonzalez told jurors that his use of weapons was not intended to help the Browns escape arrest.

Reprinted with permission