LAS VEGAS — An ex-convict from California who had been accused of plotting to kill random Las Vegas police officers to advance an anti-government sovereign citizen philosophy took a plea deal Monday that could get him freed from jail later this year.
David Allen Brutsche, 43, who in previous court appearances declared himself a sovereign citizen and later denied involvement in any organized movement, continued to serve as his own lawyer as he stood in shackles and pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Brutsche didn’t deny Monday that he was subject to court authority, and he made no pronouncements that his inalienable rights were violated.
“I wouldn’t have gone through with it,” Brutsche said softly after acknowledging to Clark County District Court Judge Elissa Cadish that he spent weeks planning with an undercover police officer to abduct officers from the street, hold them captive in a vacant house, videotape their “trial” and execute them.
Brutsche suggested the undercover officer goaded him into the idea.
“I do plead guilty,” Brutsche told the judge, adding, “I wanted to say something. It seemed like entrapment to me.”
Brutsche’s plea on Monday was linked to an earlier guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of failing to register as a sex offender.
He is expected at sentencing April 7 to receive up to five years’ probation in the police plot case and one year in county jail in the sex offender case, prosecutor Thomas Carroll said.
With time already served, Brutsche could be out of jail by August.
The plea deal represented a quiet end to a sensational case that began to unravel shortly after police arrested Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman
in August and described what investigators characterized as a local domestic terrorism plot.
Federal authorities regard sovereign-citizen extremists, who renounce government, as domestic terrorists, and authorities have linked sovereign-citizens groups with violent confrontations in recent years, including deadly shootings in South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and California.
But the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office never became involved in the Las Vegas case, suggesting weakness in the allegations against Brutsche and Newman.
A month after the arrests, Clark County prosecutors abandoned the two most serious charges — conspiracy to commit murder and attempted armed kidnapping.
Newman, a 68-year-old former paralegal, denied any sovereign-citizen affiliation.
Her court-appointed attorney, Carl Arnold, said at the time that the 180 hours of police recordings he reviewed didn’t show that Newman and Brutsche conspired to commit a crime.
Newman pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit false imprisonment. She was sentenced to one year probation and freed from jail.
Police identified Brutsche as a six-time convicted felon and child sex offender from California. They characterized Newman as an acquaintance and roommate of Brutsche who shared his ideology.
Brutsche has said he sold and gave away bottled water on the Las Vegas Strip after moving to Las Vegas.
Court records show he racked up warrants for failure to appear and drew attention from police and judges with pronouncements about personal sovereignty following arrests on traffic infractions and in cases stemming from misdemeanors like doing business without a license and blocking the sidewalk.
Las Vegas police haven’t said how much they spent investigating Brutsche and Newman.
But during the fiscal year beginning in July, Las Vegas police spent about $45,000 in overtime and almost $5,000 leasing a warehouse in the investigation of sovereign-citizen movements, Officer Bill Cassell said Monday. Officers’ on-duty regular hours weren’t tallied.
Cassell a department spokesman, said he didn’t immediately didn’t have figures for the 2012-2013 fiscal year that would have included expenditures on the Brutsche-Newman case in April, May and June.
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