A 43-year-old man accused of conspiring to kidnap, convict and execute a random police officer as part of a domestic terrorist movement cut a plea deal with prosecutors that will land him probation.
A subdued and shaven David Allen Brutsche pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping even though, he explained to District Judge Elissa Cadish, “it seemed like entrapment to me.”
Brutsche, who represented himself, will be sentenced by Cadish on April 7. If Cadish sentences Brutsche to more than probation — the charge also carries a potential 1- to 6-year prison term — he can withdraw his guilty plea and stand trial. If Cadish follows the negotiation, she could sentence Brutsche to a year in the Clark County Detention Center as part of his probation.
Brutsche is already serving a year jail sentence after pleading guilty to a gross misdemeanor for failing to register as a sex offender in a separate case. The six-time felon is also serving jail time on two contempt of court charges. Both terms will be completed Friday, jail records show.
Prior to the deal, Brutsche had continuously denied the authority of the courts and refused to respond to questions asked by judges.
Las Vegas police have said Brutsche and his co-defendant, Devon Campbell Newman, were part of the sovereign citizen movement — a loosely formed group of people about 100,000 strong. The group doesn’t believe in U.S. laws or paying taxes and made police targets for violence, factors that make them a viable terrorist threat in the eyes of the FBI.
Brutsche, who lived in Las Vegas for about nine months at the time of his arrest, has denied formal affiliation with the group, but espouses some of their principles after being harassed by police while selling water on the Strip.
During a September preliminary hearing, detective Scott Majewski testified that Brutsche and Newman trained with firearms, acted out kidnapping scenarios, constructed an apparatus to hold a kidnapped officer and produced videos explaining their actions.
The detective said the two defendants believed police officers had betrayed their oath to the U.S. Constitution and were guilty of treason.
Brutsche, who was arrested in August, said Monday that while he had participated in the conspiracy early on, “I wouldn’t have gone through with it.”
Newman pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, a gross misdemeanor. She was sentenced to a year of probation.
Brutsche and Newman were originally charged with three counts, but in September the District Attorneys office dropped the two most serious ones — attempted kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder — because of new information from police that would prevent them from proving those charges beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors said.
They were arrested at a warehouse on Valley View Drive last month, following a five-month investigation by police which included multiple undercover officers.
A police report said the pair “expressed a deep hatred” for police and targeted officers for “perceived violations of Constitutional Civil Rights” during traffic stops.
But Newman, a mother and paralegal who moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, said undercover officers were the ones who called a meeting in the warehouse where they were arrested. Everyone was supposed to gather and talk about the “persecution” of Brutsche while selling water on Las Vegas Boulevard, Newman told the Review-Journal in a jailhouse interview.
Brutsche, in a separate jailhouse interview with the Review-Journal, said the time has come for police in the United States to be held accountable for trampling on individual freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution.
“They harass people for no reason … even though their job is to apprehend those who are causing injury to somebody else,” said Brutsche.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.