Browns infiltrated by agents, did not surrender.

October 5, 2007

WMUR
Friday, October 5, 2007

PLAINFIELD, N.H. — U.S. marshals posing as supporters carried out the arrests of tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown, officials said Friday.

The undercover officers were invited in by the Browns on Thursday evening, and before the couple realized they weren’t supporters, they were already under arrest.

“Ultimately, this open-door policy that they seemed to have which allowed the Browns to have some supporters bring them supplies, welcome followers and even host a picnic –this proved to be their undoing,” U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier said. “They invited us in. We escorted them out.”

The Browns have been in a standoff with authorities since their sentencing in April on tax evasion charges. They insisted that there’s no law forcing them to pay taxes and refused to surrender — saying they would not come out alive.

Monier said that the Browns were arrested at about 7:45 p.m. The Browns were the only ones inside the house.

During a security sweep of the house, numerous weapons, ammunition and explosive devices were found, Monier said. There were also “booby traps” found on the property, and Monier said it is an active crime scene.

Since the recent arrests of four Brown supporters, there has been less traffic at the Plainfield compound, U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier said. He said officials considered that when deciding to conduct an arrest operation that a team of experts has been planning for months.

“We had no indication that the Browns intended to voluntarily surrender, so we had to move forward with an operation that promised the safest possible outcome. That day was today,” Monier said in a news release Thursday.

Expert observers had praised the authorities’ hands-off approach, but patience wore thin for Plainfield’s 2,400 residents. During the summer, town selectmen asked Monier to stop the influx of militiamen and other anti-government groups to the Browns’ home and to bring the couple to justice. But some supporters lost favor with the Browns.

Last month, authorities arrested four men accused of helping obstruct justice in the Browns’ case. Charges ranged from accessory after the fact to possession and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Authorities also blocked access to a fundraising event on the Browns’ property.

Monier said in the news release that since those arrests, “there had been a dip in the number of visitors to the house.”

The Browns could now face more federal charges following the standoff.

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