Criminal charges have been dropped against nine of 13 people arrested last year in Florida for allegedly participating in paramilitary training with the American Front, described by authorities as a well-armed, militia-style white supremacist group.
Only its leader, Marcus Faella, 39, still faces trial next month in Osceola County. He is charged with participating and teaching paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling, and directing the activities of a gang.
Previously, defendant Christopher Brooks, 28, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Luke Leger, 32, and Kent McLellan, 22, each received four years probation after pleading no contest to charges of participating in paramilitary training.
Defense attorneys have told various media outlets that the state’s case began to fall apart when they were able to question a government informant under oath and view a secretly made video of the paramilitary training at Faella’s property.
Prosecutors may well have concluded that the video, their major piece of evidence, didn’t show a crime occurring. The video showed members of the American Front firing guns and making racially charged statements, but their defense attorney argued that it showed no criminal activity, Orlando television station WFTV reported this week.
The informant was paid $40,000 to infiltrate the white supremacy group, which gathered on a 10-acre plot near St. Cloud, Fla., owned by Faella, 39, and his wife, Patricia, 36. Charges against her and defendant Dylan Rettenmaier were dismissed before their trial was scheduled to start on Monday.
At the time of their arrests, prosecutors alleged the American Front members were planning acts of violence and preparing for “an inevitable race war” in which they would kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities. Court documents described a compound that featured fortified gun entrenchments, barbed wire and firing ports cut into the side of the Faellas’ mobile home.