The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

White Supremacist Convicted in Scottsdale, Ariz., Bombing

By Bill Morlin on February 27, 2012 - 2:14 pm, Posted in White Supremacist

Notorious white supremacist Dennis Mahon faces up to 40 years in prison after being convicted in Phoenix on charges related to mailing a pipe bomb to a diversity officer who is African-American.

Mahon, 61, was convicted Friday of conspiracy to damage buildings and property with explosives; malicious damage of a building by means of explosives; and distribution of information related to explosives. His twin brother, Daniel Mahon, was acquitted on a single federal charge of conspiracy to damage buildings and property.

The mostly white jury determined the bombing was not a hate crime.

The pipe bomb was mailed in February 2004 to Don Logan, who was then director of the Office of Diversity and Dialogue for the city of Scottsdale, near Phoenix.  The bomb exploded when Logan opened the package, badly injuring him. Two other employees sustained lesser injuries.

“I’m happy with the guilty verdict against Dennis Mahon, and I understand the not-guilty verdict that was returned against Daniel Mahon,” Logan told Hatewatch today. “I’m most disappointed with the lack of a hate crime conviction, given the evidence that I observed in the trial.’’

One piece of evidence presented to the jury was a recording of a telephone threat that Logan received at his city office after he was quoted in a news article about a Hispanic Heritage celebration. The caller, who identified himself as Dennis Mahon, told Logan that a “few white people are going to stand up against this stuff.”

His office later received the mailed pipe bomb. “It was so obviously based on race,” Logan said of the bombing. “Even though I didn’t know these men, they had to know I was black.”

The Justice Department’s case was built around the testimony of a female informant, recruited by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and secret recordings she made after putting a Confederate flag in her window and befriending the Mahons in a trailer park. The informant gave two sexually provocative pictures to the Mahons in a successful attempt to win their trust and attention. In one, she wore a white bikini top with a grenade hanging between her breasts as she posed in front of a Nazi swastika.

The trial began Jan. 10, almost three years after the Mahons were indicted and arrested in Illinois following a five-year undercover investigation by the ATF.

Bill Straus, the Arizona director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said he sat in on portions of the trial. “I am disappointed the jury voted ‘no’ on the question whether race was a primary motivating factor,” he told Hatewatch. “It’s hard for me to believe, knowing what I know about the case.”

Straus said he plans to deliver a statement to the court on May 22 when Dennis Mahon, who remains in custody, is scheduled to be sentenced.

Logan, who retired in 2009 after 28 years with the city of Scottsdale, also said he will address the court, although he refuses to consider himself a victim. “I was totally unsuspecting, so I became an easy target.”

He offered praise for the ADL and Justice Department investigators and prosecutors for support he’s received since the bombing. “I’m very happy with the case they prepared.  I don’t second-guess anything the Justice Department did, other than I wish they’d secured a more-diverse composition of the jury.”

Now semi-retired, Logan said he continues working as a motivational speaker and also does diversity training and consulting. He is finishing a self-published book about the bombing and his career as an African American “working in the fifth-whitest community in the United States.” The book is entitled: “Target Delivery: Destination, Scottsdale, Ariz.”

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Concerned,

    And I hate people who ignored their workout lessons in grammar school. Not much I can do about that one, however.

    What are you going to do about your hatred of ‘irresponsible people?’ Go cry some more.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Sorry Reynardine and Franczeska:

    You two will never understand that freedom comes resposibilities. So. If people can do whatever they like with impunity? Why can’t the majority have the right to mete out punishment for those whose chooses to be irresponsible? Fortunately. You two can’t control the world. and not everyone swallow your propagandas.
    I hate irresponsible people. They are nothing but trouble.

  • Reynardine

    So I noted, Franczeska. Such English is not what makes him despicable, but his despicability would, in any decent society, fit him squarely within the parameters of his felicitously coined rubric, “perpetraitor”.

  • Franczeska

    @Concerned Citizen: “pooosibilitoes”?
    “perpetraitior”?

  • Reynardine

    By the way, Concerned Citizen, it is not unfortunate for me if you are seen as despicable. If you are treated the way despicable people deserve, you’ll just have put yourself in harm’s way, won’t you?

  • Greg deGiere

    One of the generally recognized purposes of laws is to express society’s values, not just as a deterrent through threat of punishment, but as moral statement. I believe that was the original purpose of hate crime laws, and it’s still the primary benefit. Social values do make a difference in individuals’ actions.

    Actually convicting criminals of hate crimes is hard, as it should be, because it involves proving not just the underlying crime but also proving bias intent. But classifying crimes as hate crimes, arresting and prosecuting suspects, and actually convicting some of them is important too. If you don’t believe that, just look at the results of the almost total absence of reports, arrests, prosecutions, or convictions for anti-disability hate crimes (and not because of any absence of these hate crimes). The result is that these criminals feel empowered and sometimes even think that their crimes and socially acceptable actions.

  • Reynardine

    Note to all and sundry: Before age bowed me down, my hair was inclinèt to be red. Couple of hairs still haven’t turned.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Reynardine:

    Unfortunately for you. You see what you want to you, not looking at the pooosibilitoes of people putting themselves in harms way. So if a woman dresses like a ho. Do you want to blame only the perpetraitior? Get real!

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Hey, the old Concerned Citizen we all know and barely tolerate has come back! And he reads like a Funinsnow who forgot about the spell-check.

    And before you single out LGBTQ for thinking with their primary sexual characteristics, remember the fact that you are (more likely than not) a man as well. And with what are we men frequently accused of thinking? ‘Cuz it sure ain’t the brain in our heads. Get a life, Mr C.

  • Reynardine

    Concerned Citizen, none of these responses would have been anything other than felonious to a *straight* crush or an *intraracial* murder. You have just announced yourself to be despicable.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Hate crime laws are useless and a waist of taxpayer’ money. Ideally. Hate crime laws makes great PR. ewspcially from the left, but conservarives have also used hate crime laws to their cas=uses as well. Let’s look ar a few cases.
    !1. Billy Gaithers of Sylacauga, Ala was doused with gasoline by tow men he met at a str8 bar called The Flame. Apparently. Gaithers tried to picked up one of the men in this bar. Unfortunately. It costed Mr. Gaithers his life. The issue isn’t gay. The issue is lack of responsibility and lack of respect for the str8 fellow’s right to be str8.
    2. A transgender is killed recently in California by a fellow student in high school. The victim Larence Jones had a crust on one other student in the classroom. Unfortunely for Jones. It cost her her life. ( I say her out of respect of the victime who wanted to be recognized as a female).
    3. There are stories tthat James Byrd was drunk went he got in the back of the truck of the three white men, who dragged him down the country road.
    4. Matthew Sheppard was involved with a fellow named Russell Henderson in Laramie, Wyoming. It was horrible that he was hog tied in freezing temps. Unfortunately. Sheppared like many gay men thinks with their private parts rather with their brains. If this is the case. Mr. Sheppard is blamed for his own demise. It all comes down to someone think about things rather than act on their sexual impulses.

  • Reynardine

    C. M., children and many of the elderly are factually weaker, in body and (though with the elderly only partly so) in mind. The disabled are likewise a class defined by physical or mental weakness. This is so known a fact that mens rea and malice can be deduced from the perpetrator choosing such a victim. I am not saying that hate shouldn’t be an enhancement factor in an individual crime: it goes to those very elements. But I think it is a conspiracy to target members of such a group, coupled with more than one offense in furtherance of this conspiracy, that should be chargeable as a separate offense.

    Furthermore, there is an enormous group whose very vulnerability has caused them to be targeted in America: the impoverished. We’ve been unwilling to call this group immutable, but it is more and more so every day. They are unprotected by hate crime laws, yet their vulnerability has caused them to be targeted by criminal politicians, financiers, and demagogues. If anyone deserves hate crime protection, it is this group, into which almost anyone could be irretrievably hurtled any time, and from which there is fat chance of extricating oneself. This group, however, cannot afford lobbyists; if they attempt to organize, they get Breitbarted; and the SCOTUS, having ruled that money is speech, is very likely to rule that those who haven’t got it should shut up. There is a reason that the organization that hosts this forum is called Southern *Poverty* Law Center, and poor-hating is a subject we’d better look at damned hard.

  • CM

    I’m generally not a fan of “deterrence” arguments, but on the other hand, those who invoke an alleged lack of deterrence seem to be arguing that if hate crimes laws aren’t a deterrent, then they provide no benefit to society. I think that’s highly debatable. But in any case, I haven’t seen anyone respond to my original question: What benefit would there be in eliminating hate-crimes laws?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I’m not sure hate crime enhancements have been in effect long enough, or are widespread enough, to have had a measurable effect on crime(specifically hate crime). The message people are supposed to get is that you may think whatever you want about other races, gays, women, etc., but you had better not commit a crime against someone because of your views. In other words live and let live or get screwed at sentencing time.

  • Dale Crafts

    I do believe that hate criminals deserve a good time in jail, but they are not learning their lesson. they shouldn’t die no, but while in prison to make time pass they should take a class about racialism. And I guarantee after ten years this guy would come out a new man.

  • Don Jones

    CM, there is no proof anywhere that the enhancement type of laws, whether it be guns or hate, do anything towards deterring crime. In fact it flies in the face of logic to think it does. If I’m willing to commit murder and face life without parole or even death, do you really think that a 5 or even 10 year “enhancement” for shooting you instead of stabbing you is going to deter me?

    Likewise, the white supremacist Doesn’t think of his victim as a member of a minority, but by the time he acts, he has personalized his hatred to the point that it no longere makes any difference what race the victim is. I live less that 40 miles from the old Arian Nations compound and they perpetrated nearly as many crimes against other whites and they did against Jews or blacks.

  • CM

    Reynardine,

    If we were talking about “prosecuting a mere state of mind,” I’d be at the front of the crowd in opposing it. What I thought we were talking about was proving someone guilty of a crime and then also proving that ethnic or other similar hatred was a factor in that crime.

    It seems to me that there’s plenty of precedent for that approach. We punish people more severely for rape if the victim is a child, for example, and the reason is at least in part because children are members of an especially vulnerable segment of the population and need extra protection. Likewise with what we call “elder abuse.”

    A member of a minority group may also be considered especially vulnerable (minorities are by definition outnumbered), so it’s quite just, in my opinion, to offer them some extra measure of protection, too.

  • Reynardine

    C. M., it does go to mens rea, motive, and the elements of premeditation and malice aforethought. It should be an aggravating factor. It should increase the gravity of the felony and the severity of the penalty. The problem is with whether and when it should be charged as a separate crime, and I suspect the answer is that it should be so charged when found as the common motive behind several crimes, whether by the same actor or by associates.

    This state of blanket malice towards persons or people the perpetrators don’t even know is dangerous in the extreme, and a certain political party is engaging in it, but as I said, prosecuting a mere state of mind without a definable nexus is difficult, and potentially even more dangerous. This requires careful thinking out.

  • CM

    I’m wondering just what benefit anyone believes there would be in eliminating hate-crimes laws and why anyone would think that some sort of injustice might result from prosecuting them.

    Our legal system already recognizes that the reason a crime occurred makes a difference in deciding what the crime is: a homicide committed during an armed robbery, for example, can be prosecuted as second-degree murder vs. just voluntary manslaughter if the accompanying felony is absent (at least in the state where I live).

    In such cases, the law recognizes that the circumstances of the crime reveal an exceptional disrespect for the law and disregard for human life that deserves a more attention-getting punishment. I would argue that hate-crimes laws serve precisely the same purpose.

  • Reynardine

    Hate as an aggravating factor should properly go to the element of malice aforethought and as proof of motive, and so it should be explained to juries. As a societal problem, it certainly impels people to criminal acts against even total strangers, but reaching it through the legal system before it culminates in crime is problematic. Stochastic violence is a danger because the nexus between a specific incitement and a given perpetrator is so hard to prove, and under the First Amendment, you can draw crosshairs on people all you want. The issue isn’t an easy one.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Bill Morlin,

    I know Dennis Mahon’s thinking doesn’t exactly correspond to reality, however, I have to ask as weather or not he actually thought he would help his cause by doing this, or if he just wanted to hurt someone he didn’t like and wasn’t even thinking about the consequences it would have on his own life if he was caught. One might as well almost say, when he was caught because it wouldn’t be easy to get away with a crime like this. The biggest reason the Unibomber got away with his crimes so long was because an introvert who lived along in the wilderness, and didn’t communicate with authorities until near the end of his terrorist career. Anyway, Its not like people are giving into threats like this in general.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hate crime laws ARE for sentencing. That’s why sometimes they are called hate crime sentence enhancements or something to that effect.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    This case brings up one thing that I think many progressives such as myself are not content with. I don’t think we should have hate crime laws as an adjunct to violent crimes.

    It is a more usual process to take into account motivation and other circumstances during the penalty phase of a trial as mitigating or aggravating factors. I think that is where ‘hate’ aspects should be dealt with.

    I don’t think it helps in the fight against racist violence. I think it confuses juries (as in this case) and makes some people think the accused are on trial for what they think rather than what they have done.