Historic Freeman standoff with FBI remembered on 20-year anniver - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Historic Freeman standoff with FBI remembered on 20-year anniversary

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(MTN News file photo) (MTN News file photo)

An anti-government religious group outside of Jordan engaged in a prolonged standoff with the FBI 20 years ago on Friday.

On March 25 1996, authorities arrested the leader of the Montana Freemen, initiating an 81-day standoff with authorities.

Leroy Schweitzer was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery, wire fraud and failure to file tax returns.

The group referred to their land as "Justus Township" and declared themselves sovereign of the United States Government’s authority.

Just one year prior to the standoff, members of the group wrote fraudulent checks to try to purchase $1.4 million in firearms, ammunition and bulletproof vests.

The land occupied by the group was later foreclosed on and they refused to be evicted. Toup surrendered peacefully on June 14 of that year.

Schweitzer was sentenced to 22 years in prison for 25 convictions. He died in 2011 at the age of 73.

Several others in the group received lengthy prison sentences, as well.

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