MN MILITIA: Neighbors shocked by Spc. Keith Novak's arrest - KMSP-TV

MN MILITIA: Neighbors shocked by National Guardsman's ID theft arrest

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  • Minnesota guardsman accused of stealing military IDs

    Minnesota guardsman accused of stealing military IDs

    A federal affidavit accuses a Minnesota National Guard member of stealing classified information from his former military unit at Fort Bragg, N.C. to make fake identities for his militia.
    A federal affidavit accuses a Minnesota National Guard member of stealing classified information from his former military unit at Fort Bragg, N.C. to make fake identities for his militia.
MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (KMSP) -

Neighbors were shocked to learn a Minnesota National Guard member is facing federal charges after investigators accused him of stealing IDs from hundreds of his fellow soldiers in an attempt to create his own militia.

"He's kind of like the son you wish you had," Donnie Ferguson said. "Well mannered, no problem at all."

Ferguson admitted being dumbfounded when the FBI showed up at the building he manages in Maplewood on Wednesday afternoon, heading straight for apartment 3. That's where Spc. Keith Novak lives with his 17-year-old brother.

"I am amazed," Beverly Ferguson said. "The kid is just the nicest guy. He's an Army guy, and I thought he was all up-and-up. He was always helping us and always home."

Novak is an Iraq War veteran and is currently an intelligence analyst with the Minnesota National Guard, based in Bloomington, Minn. Before that, he was at North Carolina's Fort Bragg, and the federal charges say that's where the trouble started.

According to the complaint, Novak went to a military training camp almost a year ago and met two undercover FBI employees posing as militia members. A few months later, he gave them encrypted files containing the Social Security numbers, names and birth dates of 400 members of his former Army unit, the charges allege.

Investigators believe Novak intended to use that information to make fake IDs for a militia of his own. That's something the Fergusons find hard to believe.

"I never dreamed he was into militia," Donnie Ferguson told Fox 9 News. "I knew he liked going out with his girlfriend, shooting rifles, deer hunting and stuff."

Neighbors watched as FBI agents searched Novak's apartment and truck, which was parked out front and decorated with military decals and containing various gear that was scattered all over.

According to the complaint against him, investigators believe Novak also stole half a dozen bulletproof vests and had previously given 10 to members of his militia. At least one could be seen in his back seat.

At Novak's father's home in Wayzata, investigators found more radio reflective camouflage netting and riot gear -- and Novak himself told investigators he has an "AK in his bed" and 5,000 various rounds ready to go.

"He's got a couple of military rifles -- AR-15s, 223 sniper rifle," Donnie Ferguson confirmed. "I thought, 'Well, it's kind of weird having all these guns.' It entered my mind, you know, but I thought, 'Well, maybe, the guy likes protection."

Now, neighbors admit they aren't sure what to think.

"You just never know who you are living around, who is capable of putting on that type of a show," Donnie Ferguson said.

The complaint also details some of the military-style field training Novak allegedly coordinated in rural Minnesota just three months ago, and investigators believe he has access to firearms all over the state.

Novak remains in custody, but federal authorities are keeping quiet about other details.

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