Minnesota Soldier Keith Novak, a specialist in the National Guard, was arrested by the FBI for stealing personal information from up to 400 soldiers in his Army unit in order to aid a militia in his command. He is being held in jail temporarily under the orders of a federal judge. Investigators believe that Novak, 25, intended to sell some information for cash and to use some to create fake identities for not only himself, but also for militia members who might someday need to make an escape under a false persona.
Novak joined the Minnesota Guard in Sept 2012 and was placed into a human intelligence analyst position. Before joining the Guard, he was on active duty in the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army from 2009 to 2012, and served in Iraq in 2010. He is accused of stealing Social Security numbers, ranks, security clearance information and birth dates as well as other personal information while serving in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Keith Novak was ordered held by U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel after his first appearance in a Minneapolis federal court on Wednesday. A full detention hearing, at which he is scheduled to appear, will take place on Monday at which time the judge will decide whether Novak is to remain in jail while awaiting his trial.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Novak had 5,000 rounds of ammo and supplies for a barricade in his apartment and was fully prepared to use them against authorities if they came to arrest him. Novak was recorded saying, “I’ve my AK in my bed. If I hear that door kick, it’s going boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom…”
Undercover FBI agents made contact with Novak while he was training for the guard earlier this year in Utah and told Novak that they were members of a militia group. After meeting with the agents multiple times, Keith Novak assured them during a meeting in his Maplewood, Minnesota apartment in July that he had stolen personal information of soldiers for making false identifications to aid the members of his militia. At that time, he taught the agents how to encrypt files for security purposes and gave them an electronic copy of classified materials that he claimed to have taken from Fort Bragg.
According to the affidavit filed by the FBI agents, Keith Novak told them that there were weapons hidden in various locations across Minnesota in case he needed to make a quick escape. He also disclosed that had stolen riot gear, flak vests and camouflage netting from the Army.
In September, Novak emailed the undercover agents the personal information of seven soldiers. Five days later, the agents attended a field training exercise with Novak and his militia in rural Minnesota. In November, Keith Novak followed up his previous email by sending the identification of 44 soldiers in an encrypted email. After accepting a payment from the undercover agents of $2,000 for the information already supplied, he assured them that he had more information to sell.
Minnesota Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Olson issued a statement saying that the guard is aware of the charges against Novak and is cooperating with the FBI in its investigation.
Keith Novak’s father, whose Minnesota home was searched by authorities on Wednesday in an attempt to find evidence related to his son’s stealing personal information from fellow soldiers in order to aid his militia, is unreachable by phone due to an unlisted number and other attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. It is unclear what level of involvement Novak’s father may have had in the scheme.
By Jennifer Pfalz