Sam Johnson pleads guilty

Published 8:59 am Friday, June 8, 2012

National Socialist Movement member Samuel Johnson, an organizer of illegal immigration rally in 2010 at the Veteran's Memorial in Austin, shouts at pro immigration protesters. -- Herald file photo

Supremacist faces minumum of 15 years

ST. PAUL — An Austin man with suspected ties to white supremacist groups has pleaded guilty to a weapons charge.

Thirty-one-year-old Samuel James Johnson pleaded guilty Wednesday to being a felon in possession of firearms. In his plea agreement, Johnson admitted he possessed a semi-automatic assault rifle on Nov. 4, 2010. He was indicted in April on weapons charges.

Federal officials believed Johnson was amassing weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition as part of a plan to attack the government and minorities.

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According to a federal affidavit, Johnson was a former member and Minnesota leader of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist group and had gone on to form his own group, called the Aryan Liberation Movement. He once held rallies in Austin.

Another man, Joseph Benjamin Thomas, 42, of Mendota Heights, was indicted on drug charges and later investigated for his alleged ties to Johnson and possible terrostic plots.

Thomas also told an undercover FBI agent he considered himself a “domestic terrorist” instead of an American and would risk his life for the white supremacist movement in the event of a “race war,” an FBI affidavit said.

Johnson’s criminal history includes convictions in Mower County for attempted robbery, robbery, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and sale of a simulated controlled substance.

Prosecutors say because of his record, Johnson faces a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. The maximum sentence is life in prison.

A sentencing date has not been set.