A farmer who embraced the anti-government Freemen to protest the system that took his family ranches was freed by a jury that convicted five others for a 1996 standoff with the FBI.
Edwin Clark, 47, and his family owned much of the remote farmland in eastern Montana that became the Freemen's "Justus Township."He was acquitted Tuesday of charges that he committed bank fraud by trying to deposit a $100 million Freeman warrant in the Garfield County bank in Jordan. He was also cleared of allegations that he was an accessory to other crimes.
In the first trial of group members, jurors convicted four Freemen of weapons charges and of being accessories after the fact to the armed holdup of an NBC television news crew that tried to film a story on the Freemen.
They were Steven C. Hance, 48, and his sons, James E. Hance, 25, and John R. Hance, 21, all of Charlotte, N.C., and Jon Barry Nelson, 42, of Marion, Kan. All three Hances were also convicted of being fugitives in possession of firearms.
Elwin Ward, 57, of Salt Lake City, was found innocent of being an accessory to any crimes committed by other members of the Freemen. But he was convicted of submitting a false claim to the Internal Revenue Service.