Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge

Illegal Dealings

Even though the Weavers disagreed with many of the views held by the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group, the couple attended several of their meetings throughout the mid to late 1980's. Bikers, skinheads, Klansman and neo-Nazi's usually attended these meetings, however it was common knowledge that undercover agents and informants also attended them in hopes of discovering illegal dealings or terrorist plots. It was during one of these meetings in 1989 that Randy met a tall, heavy-set biker named Guss Magisono. Randy explained to Guss that he had been having a difficult time making ends meet for the past few months, so Guss offered Randy money in exchange for illegal sawed-off shotguns. Randy was reluctant about the deal and only relented after Guss continued to badger him about how much he could earn, promising him that the guns would be sold to inner-city gang members — the plan supposedly being that the black gang members would kill themselves off. Following the Aryan Nation meeting, Randy agreed to meet Guss a few weeks later with two sawed-off shotguns in exchange for $300.00.

What Randy did not know was that Guss Magisono was actually an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) named Kenneth Fadeley. The ATF had previously arrested Fadeley for gunrunning and had offered him clemency in exchange for becoming an undercover informant for the Bureau. What happened next is still in dispute. On October 24, 1989, Randy met with Fadeley at a park in Sandpoint, Idaho, where he supposedly sold him two sawed-off shotguns. What is not known was the exact condition of the guns at the time the exchange was made. Following the sale, Fadeley reported that the guns were sawed-off, however Randy later argued that he had suspected Fadeley of being an undercover agent and that both guns were of legal barrel length at the time of the sale. Randy accused Fadeley of sawing the barrels off later.

Regardless of who actually sawed the barrels off, ATF Agent Herbert Byerly submitted a case report to the U.S. Attorney's office in Boise, Idaho, recommending that Randy be prosecuted for the sale of two illegal sawed-off shotguns. On June 12, 1990 Byerly and another agent, Steve Gunderson, approached Randy and offered him a deal. If he would agree to become an informant regarding illegal activities of Aryan Nations' members, the charges against him would be dropped. This would have been a difficult deal for most people to turn down since the sale of sawed-off shotguns is a violation of federal statutes and can result in stiff sentences and fines. Nonetheless, Randy felt he was being set up. He told the agents he had done nothing wrong and that he would not become a "snitch" for the government. Following the brief meeting, Randy called the Aryan Nation headquarters and notified them that the government was trying to infiltrate their organization.

 

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