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MISSOULA - A Kalispell man who is accused of leading a group that planned to kill Flathead County officials pleaded guilty Friday to federal firearms charges.

David Burgert, 39, admitted possessing a machine gun and being a felon in possession of a firearm under a plea agreement that requires him to continue cooperating with investigators and prosecutors.

On each count Burgert faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy set sentencing for Sept. 10.

One provision of the plea agreement is that prosecutors would recommend a reduced sentence if Burgert provides "substantial assistance in the prosecution of other individuals."

No mention was made at Friday's hearing about Burgert's alleged connection with the militia group known as Project 7. Flathead County authorities last year said they had uncovered a plot showing the group had amassed an arsenal and was planning to kill judges, prosecutors and police.

They said they also believed Burgert was the leader of Project 7, a name derived from Flathead County vehicle license plates, which begin with that number.

They said at the time that Burgert's girlfriend had used her job as a cleaning woman at the Whitefish Police Department to gather information about officers and their families.

U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer declined to say whether an investigation into Burgert's alleged ties continues or if arrests are likely.

Flathead County Sheriff Jim Dupont said Project 7 was "effectively squashed" after Burgert's arrest, but that additional charges would help validate the claims authorities raised.

He rated Burgert's credibility as "negative 30" and that any influence Burgert had within his circle of friends came from his bullying and a "big mouth."

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