Feds arrest militia trainer

Denver Post, July 22, 2000
By Andrew Guy Jr.

July 22, 2000 - A Golden man who operated a militia training exercise in the mountains was arrested by federal agents Friday on explosives charges. Paul Giovanni Graham, 32, is one of two men indicted last week for allegedly selling quarter-sticks of dynamite made with a highly sensitive substance. Graham is charged with four counts of making and dealing in explosive materials. He faces a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. He was released on $10,000 bond.

A second man, Keith Albert Thompson, 48, was indicted on the same counts last week and was arrested July 14. He was released on a personal recognizance bond. Federal officials said Graham is the owner of Front Range Surplus, a military supply store in Golden where authorities seized 25 quarter-sticks of dynamite.

According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, Graham operated a "regional militia paramilitary training exercise in the Pike Forest" called the "Colorado State Defense Force." Officials said Graham sold dynamite made with a dangerous perchlorate mixture.

"It's dangerous stuff," said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland. "Very small quantities are used for fireworks. And the quantities we're talking about here, even small vibrations could cause a reaction."

Federal undercover agents began an investigation in June 1999, and bought 151 quarter-sticks of dynamite from Graham. The dynamite was purchased on four occasions by undercover agents at military exercises hosted by Graham, records show. According to the affidavit, in one case Graham explained how he planned to make special 37mm versions of the dynamite that could explode in the air "for maximum killing effect."

Federal officials said Graham was the main operator of the militia and the person who sold the explosives; Thompson allegedly obtained the chemicals. When asked why the men were allowed bond, Strickland responded: "We didn't challenge the court in that regard. We're happy with the charges."

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