WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man accused in a bomb plot targeting Somali immigrants in western Kansas tried to use another inmate to sneak a letter out of jail that identified the confidential informant in his case, law enforcement authorities testified Tuesday.
Searches of Patrick Stein’s cell at the Butler County Detention Facility also turned up papers that referenced plans for “a small man team” overtaking the jail and cutting power to the facility, said Deputy U.S. Marshall Troy Oberly. Authorities also found detailed maps of the jail along with a list of correction officers that included their work schedules and a ranking for each, Oberly said.
Authorities contend Stein is an escape risk. The details emerged in a hastily called hearing amid defense attorney Ed Robinson’s concerns that the searches may have scooped up confidential attorney-client communications.
The government says Stein is one of three men who conspired to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in the meatpacking town of Garden City. The plot was never carried out. Stein and the other men have pleaded not guilty.
Among the items authorities said they found were love letters written to guards at the jail.
“What concerns me is when you have an inmate trying to write letters to guards, they are trying to gain influence,” Oberly testified.
Some maps were so detailed that the streets were labeled and showed how many streetlights there are from the jail to the outskirts of El Dorado, said Chris Roubideaux, a Kansas Highway Patrol officer serving on the FBI task force investigating the alleged plot.
Roubideaux said he went to the jail to examine the papers, including one that had the name of another member of the task force and the name of an FBI special agent with his hometown listed. The list included the names of jailers, the confidential informant and a federal prosecutor handling the case. Some names had email addresses or partial phone numbers.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren said the real issue raised at Tuesday’s hearing was the protection of confidential attorney-client communications, which he called “of paramount concern in our constitutional system of litigating cases.”
He ordered agents who had reviewed material that might have contained confidential attorney-client communications to disassociate themselves from the case, but declined to step into the management of the jail. The two sides agreed to have a team look over the seized material and return any privileged items to the defense.
Prosecutors say Stein, 47, Gavin Wright, 51, and Curtis Allen, 49, were part of a militia group called The Crusaders. They allegedly planned the attack on the apartment building, which also contained a mosque, for the day after the election.