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Man pleads guilty in North Alabama militia conspiracy

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A Birmingham man described as the leader of a ragtag militia that stockpiled homemade hand grenades and other weapons in Northeast Alabama pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to a weapons charge.

William James Hudson, 56, pleaded guilty to a charge of making a machine gun. His sentencing is set for Feb. 29.

Hudson was arrested June 28 after authorities searched his Division Avenue home. They found silencers, two rifles altered to accept silencers, two machine guns and other items used in grenade construction.

Hudson was the sixth militia member to plead guilty following raids in April that led to the arrest of five other men described as members of the Alabama Free Militia and the seizure of a cache of makeshift weapons. Authorities said agents seized 130 homemade hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition in the raids in DeKalb, Etowah, Marshall and Jefferson counties.

Another member of the group was sentenced to 30 months in prison last week and two others each were sentenced last month to more than three years in federal prison.

Two other men, including Raymond K. Dillard, the self-described major of the group, are to be sentenced later this month.

All of the militia members arrested denied having any particular target and said they were stockpiling weapons for their own protection.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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