Bomb suspect loses bid to stay in Illinois

URBANA — A federal judge Thursday afternoon denied a request by an attorney for a Ford County man accused of crimes related to an alleged homegrown terrorist group to keep him in central Illinois.

In an emergency motion filed several hours earlier, Assistant U.S. Public Defender Elisabeth Pollock said she learned from Michael Hari that he was supposed to be transferred from the Livingston County Jail to Minnesota this week but that the trip was put off due to bad weather.

Hari, 47, of Clarence, faces charges in both Illinois and Minnesota federal courts that were filed almost a year ago stemming from alleged hate crimes carried out by a group of men he headed up called the “Patriot Freedom Fighters” and the “White Rabbits.”

A July 15 trial date in Urbana had been set earlier in January by U.S. District Court Judge Sara Darrow for Hari’s Illinois charges — possession of a machine gun, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats and violence, attempted arson and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Pollock said in her motion that she did not know of the proposed transfer to federal authorities in Minnesota until Hari contacted her Thursday morning. She asked Darrow to allow him to remain in Illinois so she can continue to work with him on his defense on the Illinois charges.

In a brief telephone conference from her office in Rock Island with Pollock and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller, Darrow denied Pollock’s request.

That means Hari will be transferred to Minnesota, where he faces multiple charges stemming from the August 2017 fire bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minn.

Last week, Hari co-defendants in the Minnesota and Illinois cases Michael McWhorter, 29, and Joe Morris, 23, also of Clarence, pleaded guilty in St. Paul to charges related to the mosque fire bombing and the attempted arson of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign in November 2017.

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