ST. PAUL, Minn. — A federal judge in Minnesota has agreed to continue the trial of a Ford County man accused of firebombing a mosque there in 2017.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank granted a request from lawyers for Michael Hari, 48, of Clarence to continue his Minnesota trial, which has been set for Feb. 18, until April 27, to give his lawyers more time to prepare. Government prosecutors objected.

The continuance could affect the scheduling of Hari’s trial in the Central District of Illinois on charges of weapons possession, criminal conspiracy and                attempted arson, since Hari’s earlier got approval on a request to have his Minnesota criminal case resolved first. His Illinois trial had been set to begin March 30 in Urbana before Judge Michael Mihm.

Hari is alleged to have been the leader of a homegrown militia called the “White Rabbits” who carried out “jobs” that included the August 2017 firebombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minn., the November 2017 attempted firebombing of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign, armed robberies of Walmarts in Watseka and Mount Vernon, armed robberies of alleged drug dealers in Indiana and damaging railroad tracks in Effingham in November and December 2017 and January 2018.

The former Ford County sheriff’s deputy is also charged with possessing a machine gun and possession of weapons by a felon.

The request for the continuance in St. Paul followed Mihm’s denial Tuesday of a request by Hari’s lawyers in Urbana to consolidate the charges in both cases and try the entire case in Minnesota.

mschenk@news-gazette.com