Updated Court Appearances Set for The Base Members

Agency: Attorney General

Media contact: Lynsey Mukomel 517-599-2746
Public inquiries: 517-335-7622

 

September 1, 2021

LANSING - New court dates have been set in one of the cases currently pending against members of The Base, a national white supremacist group with violent inclinations. 

Last month, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against Justen Watkins, Thomas Denton, and Tristan Webb after the men allegedly entered two former and vacant Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) sites in the city of Caro on Oct. 3, 2020 and assessed them as potential future training grounds for "hate camps", which is what the group named their paramilitary firearms training exercises.

The case is being co-prosecuted with Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene. The charges are a result of a joint investigation assisted by the Michigan State Police (MSP) Caro Post and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). 

The men face the following charges: 

  • one count of larceny in a building, a four-year felony; 
  • one count of gang membership, a 20-year felony; 
  • one count of conspiracy to commit teaching use of firearms for a civil disorder, four-year felony; and  
  • one count of felony firearm, two-year felony.    

Webb waived his preliminary examination, meaning the charges against him are automatically bound over for trial.  

Today was a scheduled preliminary examination for Denton and Watkins, but the hearing was adjourned by Judge Jason E. Bitzer until Oct. 15 at 8:30 a.m. in Caro 71B District Court. 

Webb is currently out on bond, which includes a GPS tether and remaining under house arrest except for traveling to and from work and court appearances.  

Denton remains incarcerated. Watkins has been in custody in the Washtenaw County Jail since his bond - related to another case - was revoked in May. 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND 

Last October, Watkins was one of two men charged in connection to a December 2019 incident in Dexter, in which a family was terrorized at their home after the men allegedly used intimidation tactics on the premises and posted messages to other The Base members that targeted the home.  

Watkins and his co-defendant in the Dexter case, Alfred Gorman, are due for a preliminary examination on Oct. 5 in Washtenaw County's 14A-4 District Court.  

In addition to the state and Tuscola County charges, Watkins faces charges in Huron County for possession of steroids and breaking and entering. Questions related to the breaking and entering should be directed to the Huron County Prosecutor. 

Founded in 2018, The Base is a white supremacy organization that openly advocates for violence and criminal acts against the U.S., and purports to be training for a race war to establish white ethnonationalist rule in areas of the U.S., including Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The group also traffics in Nazi ideology and extreme anti-Semitism.   

Watkins claims to be the leader of The Base, and reportedly ran a "hate camp" for members of the group, where he led tactical and firearms training for participants with the goal of being prepared for the violent overthrow of the government. 

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Please note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The Department does not provide booking photos.