Judge Wants Proof That Signal Mountain Man Made "True Threat" Against Muslim Town; Robert Doggart Allowed Home Confinement

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Robert Doggart
Robert Doggart

Federal Judge Curtis Collier has directed attorneys who worked out a plea deal for a Signal Mountain man who admitted plotting to kill Muslims in a town in Upstate New York to show that it was "a true threat."

And, Federal Magistrate Susan K. Lee has reversed her earlier ruling and allowed 63-year-old Robert Rankin Doggart to go free pending disposition of the case.

Prosecutor Perry Piper and attorneys Bryan Hoss and Janie Parks Varnell had worked out a deal in which Doggart would plead guilty to a one-count bill of information charging him with interstate communication of threats. He would face up to five years in prison.

However, Judge Collier did not go along with that arrangement and directed the attorneys to file within 21 days "briefs addressing whether the factual basis in the proposed plea deal agreement contains communication on defendant's part amounting to a 'true threat' as required under" one section of federal law.

Prosecutor Piper said both the government and the defense had acknowledged that it was "a true threat."

He said Doggart, a former candidate for Congress in the 4th District, had focused on the Muslim community of Islamberg outside Hancock, N.Y., and tried to recruit "gunners" who would go with him to kill individuals there and destroy several buildings, including a mosque and a school.

The prosecutor said the government had tapped Doggart's phone and listened to him discussing the plot with several individuals. He said Doggart also made Facebook posts about the plan.

He said Doggart in one call said, "Those guys (have) to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing a man, even the better."

The prosecutor said Doggart went to Nashville and showed an individual a map of Islamberg. He said he identified the buildings he wanted destroyed.

He said Doggart traveled to Greenville, S.C., and told an individual there his M-4 was "battle tested" at 350 meters, that he would serve as the stand-off gunner during the assault, and that he would shoot the residents of Islamberg during the attack."

After a detention hearing in which a federal agent testified at length about Doggart's actions, Magistrate Lee ordered him detained. She said, "I find clear and convincing evidence that the defendant it is a danger to the community and by the preponderance of the evidence that defendant is a risk of non-appearance. Based on the continuing nature of the offenses shown by proof and the evidence of undefined and potentially disabling mental health issues, and evidence of substance abuse issues, I conclude the defendant is a danger to the community and a risk of non-appearance and that there are no conditions or combinations of conditions that can assure defendant's appearance or the safety of any other person and the community at this time. Defendant must therefore be detained without bail."

At a later hearing, Magistrate Lee ordered Doggart's release after hearing evidence regarding his mental health situation. His attorneys said he had weaned himself from his prescription pain medication and was no longer consuming alcohol.

Magistrate Lee said he could be released into the custody of two family members, that he undergo psychiatric treatment, refrain from any use of alcohol or illegal drugs, participate in a program of substance abuse treatment if directed by his probation officer, remain under home confinement, submit to location monitoring, and have no Internet access."

Defense attorneys said Doggart has numerous degrees and certificates, is a veteran, and an ordained minister of the Christian National Church. 

Judge Collier later affirmed the release by Magistrate Lee after an appeal by the government.

He said the government "has not shown by clear and convincing evidence defendant's release would pose an unreasonable danger to the community or any particular individual."

Two officials of The Muslims of America, which is headquartered at Hancock, N.Y., wrote Judge Collier on June 10, asking to be heard in the case. They objected to the plea agreement.

Hussein Adams and Khadijah Smith said, "We respectfully move this court to allow us as victims in this matter to be heard on the issue of Mr. Doggart's plea agreement currently pending. We respectfully do not believe that the plea arrangement is fair, reasonable or in the interest of justice as it relates to us his victims or to society as a whole.

"We welcome the opportunity to come before your honor to offer an opinion as to what should be considered in a disposition of this case. We find it ironic and disappointing that Mr. Doggart stated during his terror attack planning that he wished not to die while killing the residents of Islamberg, and instead he wished to return home to the family he loved. Now he is indeed home under house arrest and being cared for by the family who provides him love and comfort. Where is the punishment for his evil and criminal actions?"

 

 


Police Blotter: Man Needs To Get His Belongings From Ex-Girlfriend; Car Thief Leaves His BB Gun Behind

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson To Seek Re-election


A man on Forest Plaza Drive told police his ex-girlfriend has his belongings and is not forthcoming with him about where they are located since the separation. The man said his belongings were ... (click for more)

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: COLLINS, ARTHUR L 378 PADEN LANE CHATTANOOGA, 37411 Age at Arrest: 51 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson on Saturday announced his intentions to seek re-election to the office subject to the May 3, Republican Primary. In making his announcement Sherriff Lawson ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Police Blotter: Man Needs To Get His Belongings From Ex-Girlfriend; Car Thief Leaves His BB Gun Behind

A man on Forest Plaza Drive told police his ex-girlfriend has his belongings and is not forthcoming with him about where they are located since the separation. The man said his belongings were last on Gadd Road at his ex-girlfriend’s grandmother's house, and where the two last stayed, but he doesn't believe most of his belongings are there anymore. The man believed some of his belongings ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: COLLINS, ARTHUR L 378 PADEN LANE CHATTANOOGA, 37411 Age at Arrest: 51 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga AGGRAVATED ASSAULT DAVIS, NAMON MICHAEL WHITEVILLE CORRECTIONA WHITEVILLE, 38074 Age at Arrest: 44 years old Arresting Agency: Collegedale Police Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) DAVIS, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Earl Freudenberg: Johnny Haynes Overcome His Disability To Become A Police Department Fixture

Johnny Haynes was a special person. Under almost clear skies and 45 degree temperatures, he was buried Saturday afternoon when a small group of his friends gathered at Greenwood Cemetery off Wilcox Boulevard for the committal service. The retired Chattanooga Police Department employee has been my friend since 1962. The Central High School graduate was born with polio but was ... (click for more)

Employers Broke The Social Contract - And Response

Along with our trust, most employers are going to need to give those who participated in the great resignation something to hold onto. The cliché during the pandemic is that we’re all in the same storm, not the same boat. Some of you are in yachts while the rest of us are drowning, grasping at driftwood. For some it’s being deep in medical debt, for others they suffer from burnout ... (click for more)

Sports

Lady Vols Stay Perfect In SEC With Win At #13 Georgia

The No. 5/6 Lady Vols picked up their fifth AP Top-25 win of the season on Sunday afternoon, defeating No. 13/13 Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum, 63-55. Tennessee (18-1/7-0 SEC), the only team undefeated in conference play, is enjoying its best start to a season since the 2007-08 campaign when the squad started 22-1 en route to SEC and NCAA championships. Its league beginning ... (click for more)

UT Men's Basketball Defeats LSU, 64-50

The 24th-ranked Tennessee basketball team led wire-to-wire and avenged an early-season loss to No. 13 LSU in front of a season-high crowd of 21,061 Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena. The final score was 64-50. Santiago Vescovi led Tennessee with 16 points, including five made 3-pointers. Vescovi also tallied a team-high-tying six rebounds and five assists. Making his second ... (click for more)