SALT LAKE CITY — The leader of a Utah militia group has struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
William Keebler was scheduled to go on trial next week on charges related to the attempted bombing of a Bureau of Land Management building on the Utah-Arizona border. Instead, he pleaded guilty on Thursday to a charge of attempted destruction of federal property by use of explosive.
“What now is your plea?” U.S. District Judge David Sam asked him during a hearing Thursday morning.
“Guilty,” Keebler replied.
Keebler admitted to driving from Tooele County to Mount Trumbull, Ariz., back in 2016 to try to blow up a cabin owned by the BLM. Previously, federal prosecutors had accused him of casing BLM and FBI offices in Salt Lake City, as well as a mosque.
Keebler was a member of the “Patriot’s Defense Force” and had come under FBI surveillance after his support for Cliven Bundy during his standoff with the government. FBI agents had infiltrated Keebler’s group and built him the bomb, which fizzled.
Keebler’s supporters have previously told FOX 13 they believed he had been set up by the federal government.
Keebler faces up to 70 months in prison when he is sentenced in July. Outside of court, federal prosecutors said agents headed off a “significant domestic terrorism threat right here in Utah.”
“We hope this prosecution would be an object lesson for any would-be terrorist who would attempt to use violence either in the domestic or international context against the United States,” said assistant U.S. Attorney for Utah Andrew Choate.