SAVANNAH — A former Navy recruit arrested on drug charges is linked to a militia group that prosecutors say plotted terrorist attacks while operating inside the U.S. military, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Jeffrey Wayne Roberts Jr., 27, of Savannah was being held in neighboring Bryan County after his arrest Tuesday on charges of illegal gang activity including the possession of cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy with intent to distribute. An indictment names the gang as F.E.A.R., short of Forever Enduring Always Ready, which prosecutors say was led by Army soldiers from nearby Fort Stewart.
Tom Durden, district attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit in southeast Georgia, said Roberts is the 11th person charged in connection with the anti-government group. Prosecutors say its members stockpiled guns and bomb components and discussed plots to blow up a park fountain in Savannah, poison apple orchards in Washington state and ultimately assassinate the American president.
A soldier accused of being the leader of the militia group, Army Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, and two others — Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon — are charged with murder in the December slayings of 19-year-old ex-soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Tiffany York. Prosecutors say they were killed to keep the group's activities secret.
Durden declined to discuss Roberts' role in the group beyond what was stated in the Nov. 5 indictment. But he said the latest suspect had no involvement in the slayings.
"He was not present at the murders, but his activities furthered the F.E.A.R. organization," Durden said.
The indictment says Roberts handled drugs for the militia group between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 last year. But no other details were given. Three Army soldiers and a civilian were charged in September with committing home burglaries and car break-ins to help fund the group.
Military records for Roberts show he served briefly as a Navy airman recruit. After enlisting in August 2003 and finishing his initial training, Roberts was assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron 37 based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va. Navy records show he left the military after barely a year, in December 2004, but do not indicate why.
There was no answer Wednesday at the home phone number listed for Roberts in Savannah. It was unknown if he had hired an attorney. The public defender's office for Bryan County did not immediately return a phone message asking if it was representing Roberts.
Two suspects have pleaded guilty in the case. Army Pfc. Michael Burnett pleaded guilty in August to manslaughter charges, saying he witnessed Peden and Salmon shoot both slaying victims on orders from Aguigui. Last month, former Pfc. Christopher Jenderseck pleaded guilty to helping burn bloody clothes, spent shotgun shells and a cellphone to help cover up the killings.