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Militia leader pleads guilty to ID theft

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MINNEAPOLIS — A self-described militia commander from Minnesota who was charged with stealing identification information from members of his former Army unit at Fort Bragg in North Carolina has pleaded guilty to identity theft.

Prosecutors say Keith Michael Novak, of Maplewood, planned to use the stolen information to make fake IDs for members of his militia, the 44th Spatha Libertas. He entered his guilty plea Monday on the single count in federal court in Minneapolis as part of a plea agreement, according to court papers. Judge Patrick Schiltz ordered that he remain in custody. A sentencing date has not been set.

Novak was an active duty soldier and intelligence analyst with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg from 2009 to 2012 and served in Iraq in 2010, according to court documents. He later joined the Minnesota National Guard and served as a human intelligence analyst.

According to an FBI affidavit and pretrial testimony from an FBI agent, Novak met undercover FBI employees posing as members of a Utah-based militia at a National Guard training camp in Utah in January 2013. The investigation began after he allegedly talked about blowing up a National Security Agency facility. He later shared information with the undercover employees in return for money on 92 members of his former unit, the agent testified. Novak also was accused of stealing flak jackets from the 82nd Airborne.

Novak was arrested in December and was denied bail. He allegedly threatened violence, though his attorney said his statements were nothing more than bluster.

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