Skip to main content

Earlton man who attempted to form militia sentenced to time served

Robert Twiss
October 11, 2017 11:30 pm Updated: October 12, 2017 12:02 am

ALBANY — A Greene County man who claimed to be a resistance fighter, who wanted to start a local militia and who revealed to undercover federal agents a plot to bomb the FEMA office building in Albany has been sentenced to time served for felony possession of a firearm.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. McAvoy sentenced Robert Twiss, 59, of Earlton, on Tuesday to time served for possessing a firearm as a felon and three-year term of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.

Twiss was facing 10 years in federal prison and up to three years of a post-imprisonment supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in March at the time of his guilty plea.

Twiss pleaded guilty on March 20 to possessing a Plainfield M-1 model 41 semi-automatic rifle at his home in Earlton on Oct. 24, 2016.

The case was investigated jointly by state police and agents from the FBI field office in Albany.

Twiss has a criminal history that includes four misdemeanor convictions and one felony conviction, according to the complaint. Twiss was convicted of third-degree burglary, a class D felony, in Warren County Court on Jan. 26, 1981.

An investigation into Twiss’ militia plot began in 2015 when the FBI suspected Twiss was forming, or had formed, an army based in Greene County.

The complaint, filed by an FBI agent, goes on to say that Twiss had plans to “engage in acts of violence.”

An informant posed as an individual interested in learning more about Twiss’s plans for the militia.

Mr. Twiss also discussed possessing and creating explosives, according to court documents.

Twiss also told the informant that he knew the location of the Albany Joint Terrorism Task Force, and that although it had a metal fence around it, Twiss could “reach it with a f****n’ Molotov launcher,” according to the documents.

The informant met Twiss face to face on numerous occasions from August 2015 to September 2016; these meetings mostly took place at Twiss’ home in Greene County, but one meeting last Feb. 7 took place at Hampton Manor Park in East Greenbush, according to court documents.

Twiss told the informant and special FBI undercover agents about a number of topics including how Twiss thought of himself as “a resistance fighter,” the possibility of an Armageddon-type situation where Twiss would destroy the FEMA building in Albany and how he could make “improvised explosives” with Tannerite, a binary chemical explosive used in firearms practice, according to the court documents.

On March 5, 2016, Twiss held a meeting at his house in Earlton where he revealed additional plans for his militia and his plans to destroy the FEMA building, according to the complaint.

“I know where the FEMA center is, I know where their back-up generator is and I know where their nearest substation is,” Twiss said to the informant, who attended the meeting. “Why do I know where all that stuff is? ’Cause if I’m gonna take it, if I’m gonna cripple them, I need to cripple all that...”

On the same date, Twiss spoke about making “improvised explosives” out of Tannerite, according to the complaint. Twiss also said he didn’t take his rifle with him when he travels, but would occasionally take it out and “fire a few rounds,” according to the complaint.

Twiss was taken into custody Oct. 26, 2016 at the Home Depot on Route 23B in Leeds where he was an employee.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.