White supremacist group leader sentenced for terrorizing Dexter family, AG's office says

Kara Berg
The Detroit News

The leader of a national white supremacist group that advocates for violence against the government has been resentenced for terrorizing a Dexter family, according to the Michigan Attorney General's Office. 

Justen Watkins "used intimidation tactics at a family’s home and posted messages to other The Base members targeting the home," according to a press release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office. 

Nessel said in 2020 that Watkins and Alfred Gorman terrorized a Dexter family, sharing their home address with The Base members and trying to intimidate the couple. 

Justen Watkins

He was sentenced Monday to 56 months to 20 years in prison for being a member of a gang. Two other charges — using a computer to commit a crime and unlawfully posting a message online — were dismissed as a part of a plea deal.

This corrected an invalid prison term Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Patrick Conlin Jr. imposed in July. His original sentence, 56 months to 72 months, violated the law because maximum sentence ranges must be the same as the charge's maximum penalty under law, said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Nessel's office. 

This prison term will run concurrently with a May sentence from Tuscola County, where Watkins was sentenced to at least 32 months for conspiring to train for a civil disorder. The Tuscola County sentence is connected to members of The Base, including Watkins, assessing abandoned Michigan jail facilities as potential paramilitary firearms training areas, according to Nessel's office. 

Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani said in 2020 Watkins ran a "hate camp" for members of The Base so they could prepare to overthrow the government. FBI agents seized 15 guns from the Bad Axe property where the camp was held and found extremist propaganda in the home.

Watkins had written a manifesto calling for genocide and had "expressed a desire to die for the cause … and take as many people with him,” Doddamani said in 2020. 

Read more on The Base: 

Gorman was sentenced to four years of probation and one year in jail, which he will not have to serve as long as he successfully completes his probation. 

A third member of The Base, Tristan Webb, was sentenced last week to five years of probation for guilty pleas to being a member of a gang, conspiracy to train with firearms for civil disorder and a felony firearms enhancement. His two incarceration sentences — one year in jail and two years in prison — were deferred or delayed.

“I refuse to allow domestic terrorists to incite violence against our residents and communities,” Nessel said in a statement Thursday.  “I am proud to work alongside law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels to safeguard the public from these serious threats and gratified to see justice served.” 

The Base, a literal English translation of "Al-Qaeda," is a white supremacy group that advocates for violence and criminal acts against the country. The group says they are training for a race war to establish white ethnonationalist rule in parts of the country, including the Upper Peninsula.