TAMPA -- A militia leader from St. Petersburg accused of plotting to bomb power lines is admitting in a plea agreement to his participation in a terrorist conspiracy.
Donald L. Beauregard, 32, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to degrade property of the United States, to destroy energy facilities and to provide material support for terrorists. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
Federal prosecutors announced the agreement in court Thursday morning. Beauregard, being held without bond in a Hillsborough jail, was not present. His lawyer declined to comment.
He is scheduled to enter a guilty plea today at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara.
As leader of a Southeastern U.S. militia alliance, Beauregard had urged the bombing of Central Florida power stations and electrical transformers, according to the plea agreement unsealed Thursday in federal court. In the agreement, he admits planning the burglary of a National Guard weapons armory in Haines City and providing unregistered weapons to undercover police officers.
The charges, filed by a federal grand jury in December, were a surprise to Beauregard's neighbors in St. Petersburg, who knew him as an ordinary man with a wife and child, and a baby on the way. Before his arrest he managed the Hickory Farms store at Tyrone Square Mall.
Beauregard had received publicity as the commander of a Pinellas group called the 77th Regiment Militia. Their rhetoric was skeptical of federal authority, as is typical for militia groups, but was not previously linked to violent threats.
The plea agreement makes no mention of the people said to have conspired with Beauregard. In December, a former roommate of Beauregard's was arrested in Atlanta on weapons charges. That month, federal prosecutors said the husband of Beauregard's Nevada-based defense attorney was an unindicted co-conspirator.
"The investigation is ongoing," a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman said Thursday.
Charges relating to domestic terrorism are relatively rare in Central Florida.
In the category for internal security and terrorism offenses, which includes several potential crimes, federal prosecutors for the Middle District of Florida filed eight charges in 1996, five in 1997 and none in 1998, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an independent database of federal prosecutions at Syracuse University.