Guard member charged with ID theft deemed flight risk; release denied

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A federal magistrate ruled Monday that Keith Novak will remain in custody while the Minnesota National Guard member awaits trial on charges that he planned to steal the identities of hundreds of U.S. soldiers.

The Star Tribune reports Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel deemed Novak a flight risk and rejected a defense attorney's request to release him. Noel noted FBI testimony that Novak had resisted arrest and threatened to kill anyone who arrested him, the Star Tribune says.

The 25-year-old Novak, who is from Maplewood, was charged with fraud last week for allegedly stealing the social security numbers and security clearance information of 400 members of his former Army unit in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. According to the criminal complaint against him, Novak stole the information in order to make fake IDs for members of a militia he leads, 44th Spatha Libertas or "Sword of Freedom."

The Associated Press reports his lawyer argued Novak's statements to authorities were nothing more than boasting and said it's not illegal to be in a militia. But the AP also reports an FBI agent testified at Monday's hearing that Novak spoke to a source about blowing up a National Security Agency facility and told undercover employees he had a "target package" on billionaire Warren Buffett.

The meaning of the phrase "target package" was not explained, the AP says, though the FBI also claimed to have found a list of people Novak was creating target packages for.

The case against Novak is being referred to a grand jury and no date has been set for his next court hearing.

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