A judge sentenced a St. Cloud man who pledged loyalty to the antigovernment group Boogaloo Bois to two years in prison for illegally possessing devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic weapons.
Michael Paul Dahlager, 27, was sentenced in federal court Tuesday in Minneapolis after pleading guilty in July to unlawful possession of a machine gun.
Dahlager was a self-described member of the Boogaloo Bois, the loose-knit organization that espouses antigovernment — and especially anti-police — sentiment and is dedicated to exploiting chaos and starting the next American civil war, according to federal authorities.
In a court filing before sentencing, Dahlager's attorney argued that he be released with no additional jail time beyond the time he has served since his arrest in April.
"Michael Dahlager made a mistake," wrote attorney Robert Richman. "He possessed homemade pieces of plastic which could be used to convert a semi-automatic to fully automatic. He was curious, nothing more. He had no intention of committing an act of violence. … He has no criminal record and has never been violent."
As for Dahlager's connection to the Boogaloo Bois, Richman wrote, "Although at one time he associated himself with the Boogaloo Bois, he did so before he fully understood their platform. Mr. Dahlager has never advocated civil war. He considers himself a pacifist and a patriot."
The prosecution countered in its own filing by turning Dahlager's own words against him, including when he told a confidential informant for the FBI that "I'd go out fighting … hunt some pig."
Along with the two years in prison that the government requested, Judge Michael Davis also sentenced Dahlager to three years' supervised release.
The filing included photos of an arsenal and other items that Dahlager had in his car at the time of his arrest, including rifles, a pistol, ammunition, smoke grenades, handcuffs, zip ties, a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Boogaloo Bois paraphernalia. There also were the firearm conversion devices known as "auto sears," which federal authorities consider a tool for converting semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.
"This case is not limited to a single or momentary possession of an auto sear," the prosecution continued. "Rather, it involves Defendant's possession of multiple devices over the course of months, his distribution of those devices, and his stated mention to use his weapons against law enforcement."
Federal agents began investigating Dahlager in November 2020 after a confidential informant reported that Dahlager had discussed "his willingness to kill law enforcement," according to an FBI affidavit in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in April.
In December, after Donald Trump lost the presidential election, Dahlager attended a "Stop the Steal" rally at the State Capitol to record the scene and scout tactical locations and security presence. He told the informant he was planning to attack the Capitol on Jan. 17, 2021, the day a group of Trump supporters planned to protest the results of the election, according to the documents.
Coming shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, hundreds of state troopers — which Dahlager called an "army" — gathered in St. Paul in response to reports of planned protests there.
Dahlager showed the informant his arsenal, which included tactical body armor, an AR-15 rifle and a gun silencer.
As Jan. 17 approached, the Boogaloo members feared they had an informant in their midst.
Five days before the planned attack, Dahlager and others met in Rogers and discussed the possibility that their group had been compromised. Dahlager told the others they "should not attend the rally in St. Paul on January 17 and that the group should in the meantime focus on tactical training and recruiting new members into the movement," according to the complaint.
On Feb. 3, Dahlager gave the informant two auto sears, which he said could last 10,000 rounds, according to the complaint.