Feds Offer Reward for Militia Boss

The Associated Press/March 14, 2002

Lexington, Ky. -- The commander of a civilian paramilitary group under house arrest for possessing guns, pipe bombs and nearly 35,000 rounds of ammunition slipped out of his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled, authorities said.

Federal officials on Thursday posted a $5,000 reward for Charlie Puckett, 55, who heads a group called the Kentucky State Militia.

Don York, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, described Puckett as an armed and dangerous fugitive.

Puckett posted a message on a militia electronic bulletin board Thursday at 12:19 a.m. proclaiming his innocence and complaining about his treatment by the ATF, York said.

"I must leave society at this time for my own safety,'' Puckett said in the message. "Again, I state I have broken no laws.''

Puckett was arrested on federal weapons charges last month shortly after completing an interview with the television show "Unsolved Mysteries.'' He has a felony record and felons are not allowed to possess firearms. He pleaded innocent and was put under house arrest at his Lancaster home.

Puckett has argued that the 1968 federal gun-control act prohibiting felons from owning guns does not apply to him because he was convicted of the felony two years before the law's enactment.

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