The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Police have arrested a 31-year-old white supremacist in connection with an ax murder last April of a fellow racist.
Christopher Paul Mason, of Phoenix, was arrested last Thursday. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bond on murder charges related to the death of Joshua Calkins, 35, also of Phoenix, The Arizona Republic reported.
The newspaper, citing court records, reported that both men were affiliated with an unidentified white supremacist prison gang.
Calkins’ body, wrapped in plastic, was dumped in an alley in northwest Phoenix and found later on April 16. His hands were tied behind his back, and bloody towels and bleach were discarded nearby, police said.
Calkins had extensive trauma and was nearly decapitated, leading a medical examiner to conclude he had been killed with an ax. “Interviews conducted in the coming months with more than 20 people would lead investigators to believe that the medical examiner’s guess was exactly right,” the Arizona newspaper reported.
Mason admitted to witnesses later interviewed by police that he had killed Calkins, saying, “I got him 13 times with an ax,” according to court records. Mason allegedly told some of the witnesses that he killed Calkins because he had robbed Mason’s former girlfriend at gunpoint.
In 2006, Mason pleaded guilty to forgery after attempting to cash a $700 stolen check to support his methamphetamine addiction.
A 34-year-old Kansas City truck driver faces a first-degree murder charge and a federal hate crime investigation after authorities say he deliberately struck a teenager leaving a mosque with his SUV.
After his arrest, Ahmed H. Aden told police that he had been looking to kill several men who threatened him earlier, mistaking 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein for one of those men, the Kansas City Star reported.
The high school sophomore, who had just led evening prayers at his mosque on Thursday, was struck outside the Somali Center by a speeding Chevrolet Blazer, nearly severing his legs. He died a short time later at a hospital.
Mohamed Ahmed, 13, told the newspaper that the teenager “was leading our prayer, and then after that, he just went outside. He was going to the gym to meet his friends and play basketball. And then, he got hit.”
Prosecutors have charged Aden with armed criminal action, leaving the scene of an accident and unlawful use of a weapon. He is also the focus of a federal hate crimes probe, the newspaper reported.
Abdinajib Dirir, the victim’s uncle, said the family had emigrated from war-torn Somalia and was devastated by the loss.
“There are no words to describe,” he told Kansas City newspapers. “This is a community that fled a violent situation. Now we’re facing violence in the United States. … We are American like everyone else. And this is a tragedy for us.”
Members of the Somali community told the newspaper that the suspect had a history of making violent threats against Muslims and the mosque, occasionally even threatening the mass slaughter of worshipers. He had been interviewed by police, but apparently a case against him couldn’t be developed.
Moussa Elbayoumy, chairman of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a member of the mosque has a photo of Aden’s SUV with anti-Muslim graffiti reading, “Quran is a virus disease (worse) than Ebola.”
An Oregon detective whose actions jeopardized the prosecution of two white supremacists involved in a three-state murder rampage in 2011 has pleaded guilty to forgery and official police misconduct.
Det. Dave Steele entered the double guilty pleas last week in Marion County Circuit Court in Salem, Ore., where he was sentenced to concurrent sentences of 18-months of probation by Judge Jamese Rhoades, the Oregonian reported.
As part of a plea bargain, Steele also agreed to resign from the Oregon State Police and surrender his police certification, making him ineligible to get another law enforcement job, the newspaper reported.
Steele was the lead state investigator in a federal criminal case brought against David “Joey” Pedersen and his girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, who were convicted of four murders in Washington, Oregon and California. The pair—targeting Jews and minorities—hoped to start a race war. Ultimately, they both entered guilty pleas in state court in Washington and federal court in Portland, Ore.
When they were sentenced earlier this year, senior U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty of Portland issued a blistering 63-page opinion criticizing the police investigator’s misconduct and federal prosecutors’ “laissez-faire” approach to their legal obligations in the case.
The judge said the case was “mishandled by the (federal) prosecution team… very nearly jeopardizing this case altogether.”
“The most egregious misconduct was committed by Detective Steele,” the judge said. The opinion said the detective “was directly responsible for destroying and withholding Brady material (from defense attorneys), failing to catalog and turn over discovery, backdating evidence reports, lying to the (U.S. Attorney’s Office) regarding this conduct, intercepting and listening to privileged defense communications and filing a false declaration with this court.”
The judge said the life-sentences given to both Pedersen and Grigsby were appropriate for the crimes committed and “there is no evidence that either defendants’ guilty plea was unfairly influenced by the government’s conduct in this case.”
The police misconduct triggered investigations by the FBI and the Oregon State Police, including a review of other state criminal cases in Oregon handled by Steele going back to 2001. It’s unclear if federal charges also will be filed against Steele.
The Portland newspaper reported that Oregon State Police did not comment on the case until Wednesday when the agency released a statement saying the department “has taken this matter seriously since becoming aware of it by placing Detective Steele on administrative leave in December 2013, and requesting an outside agency begin a criminal investigation.”
Antigovernment activist Bernard von NotHaus was convicted three years ago of counterfeiting for making and selling his own silver coins. Now he gets to create his own jail.
The 70-year-old antigovernment activist – called a numismatic gadfly by some – was sentenced this week to six months of home detention and three years of probation by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees of the Western District of North Carolina.
A federal judge in North Carolina has denied a motion to set aside the 2011 jury conviction of a Bernard von NotHaus, an antigovernment activist who minted and sold his own silver coins in competition with U.S. government.
The protracted and complex legal case attracted widespread interest from gold and coin enthusiasts, as well as antigovernment activists and antigovernment “sovereign citizens” who say the government cannot control them.
The 47-page ruling, filed Nov. 10 by U.S. District Judge Richard Vorhees, came three years after von NotHaus’ conviction in Asheville, N.C., and the filing of assorted post-trial motions, including an attempted legal intervention by Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, Inc. The ruling on those motions, all rejected as baseless by the court, clears the way for von NotHaus’ sentencing next month.
After his conviction, the man who described himself as the “architect of the free-money movement” argued that federal laws under which he was charged are unconstitutional and that federal prosecutors didn’t present sufficient evidence showing he intended to violate counterfeit laws.
The 70-year-old founder of the so-called “Liberty Dollar Operation” minted his own silver coins that looked very much like U.S. silver dollars, intending them to be used as “private barter currency” for goods and services in direct competition with the Federal Reserve. He sold them to distributors in a Pyramid-style operation, accepting Federal Reserve greenbacks for the purchases, reportedly putting more than $20 million Liberty Dollars into circulation before being arrested by the FBI on federal counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.
The post-conviction motions, the judge said, presented “a question as to the scope and extent” of Congress’ exclusive power to coin money.
Von NotHaus argued his conviction “infringes on the public’s right to utilize private bartering systems” and that it is not illegal or counterfeiting for a private individual to compete with the Federal Reserve.
The judge said he was not ruling that private barter systems are illegal. He also said that while the Constitution doesn’t give Congress the exclusive right to coin money, it does “expressly prohibit” states from doing that.
“It is undisputed that Congress has the ability to enact comprehensive laws concerning the coinage of money, the value of money, and counterfeiting,” the judge’s ruling said.
Further, the judge ruled that Congress does indeed possess the power to make it illegal for someone like von NotHaus to mint coins—whether they resemble U.S. coins or are of original design—if they are intended for use in monetary transactions.
Vorhees order said the jury that heard the evidence against von NotHaus found that his Liberty Dollars were counterfeit and that he intended to break federal law by minting and selling them.
After earlier interest by the Secret Service, the FBI opened a criminal investigation in 2004 after the Asheville, N.C., police department got a report the State Employees Credit Union that someone had attempt to “pass a coin that looked similar to United States coinage.”
The judge said the jury that heard the case “was in a position to evaluate the specific and fine points of the Liberty Dollars” before unanimously concluding they were counterfeit and that von NotHaus intended to break federal law.
“There is a heavy burden to prove that a jury’s verdict and findings of facts are wrong,” the judge said, denying von NotHaus’ motions to set aside his convictions or grant a new trial.
While operating the Royal Hawaiian Mint in the late 1990s, von NotHaus founded “The National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code” or NORFED. To circumvent laws, he also started the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, where he called himself the “high priest.”
But it was his Liberty Dollar operation that captured national headlines as von NotHaus claimed NORFED would compete with the Federal Reserve System just like FedEx does with the U.S. Postal Service.
He later moved its headquarters to Evansville, Ind., Later, where he teamed with James W. Thomas, publisher of Media Bypass, a now-defunct magazine popular with antigovernment “Patriots,” sovereign citizens and extremists with anti-Semitic agendas.
NORFED issued and circulated five coins in one, five, ten, twenty and fifty dollar denominations. The Liberty Dollars, marked as “America’s inflation-proof currency,” were minted at Sunshine Minting, Inc. in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
While the coins actually contained silver, trial evidence showed von NotHaus and his operation would recall and re-mint the coins if the “average spot price” of that precious metal exceeded the face value of a particular coin.
“We never refer to the American Liberty as a coin,” von NotHaus said in an interview in 1999. “The word ‘coin’ is a government-controlled term. This is currency that is free from government control.”
“When the people own the money, they control the government,” he said. “When the government owns the money, it controls the people.”
The leader of the American Front—once facing 30 years in prison—received a sentence of just six-months last week for teaching firearms and combat skills to his neo-Nazi followers, described as a heavily-armed, white supremacy militia.
The sentencing of Marcus “Mark” Faella on Nov. 10 in Kissimmee, Fla., was an anti-climatic end to what had been the largest domestic terrorism case ever prosecuted in that state. He was convicted by a jury in September.
The judge denied a request from defense attorney Ronald L. Ecker II to reverse Faella’s conviction on the grounds the jury was prejudiced by a “political flier” showing masked American Front members posing with assault weapons and a Molotov cocktail.
Faella, 41, likely will be released from jail within four months, but he will serve two years of “community control” with 24-hour electronic monitoring and 10 years probation, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The neo-Nazi leader, his wife, Patricia, and 11 other members of the American Front were arrested in May 2012 after police raided what court documents described as a fortified training compound on 10-acres owned by the couple near St. Cloud, Fla.
The arrests came after police raided what court documents described as a fortified compound near St. Cloud, Fla., where Faella and his wife, Patricia, 39, were accused of conducting illegal paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling and prejudice while committing a crime. Some of the combat training, authorities said, was carried out by an American Front member who was a military reservist from Missouri.
But, for reasons that have never been fully explained, the case began to fall apart shortly after the handcuffs were slapped on the suspects. Last April, prosecutors moved to dismiss charges against nine of the American Front members. The FBI said it was a state case, while local authorities said it was a federal investigation. One apparent weakness in the prosecution’s case involved a surveillance video released to defense attorneys who said the tape didn’t show any crimes being committed.
A judge in Kansas has ordered a mental competency evaluation for Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a former neo-Nazi and KKK leader accused of assassinating three people last April at two Jewish community facilities in Kansas.
Johnson County District Judge Kelly Ryan ordered the evaluation Wednesday at the request of defense attorneys who filed the motion just before a planned preliminary hearing for Miller, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, the Kansas City Star reported in today’s editions.
The mental exam will attempt to determine if Miller, 73, of Aurora, Mo., is competent to aid in his own defense if the death-penalty case proceeds to a jury trial. If he’s found mentally incompetent, he will be sent to the Larned State Hospital in Kansas and could be held there indefinitely or until he is found competent, the newspaper reports.
The defense request for the competency examination came Wednesday as prosecutors were ready to present probable cause evidence against Miller in an attempt to convince the court there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
After postponing that hearing, the judge scheduled a Dec. 18 hearing to discuss results of the competency evaluation. The delay prompted an outburst from Miller who said he wanted a speedy trial, the newspaper reported.
“Too long. Way too long,” Miller said in court. “I don’t want it drawn out.”
Miller is charged with capital murder for the gunshot killings of Terri LaManno, 53, William Lewis Corporon, 69, and Reat Griffin Underwood, 14. If convicted, the 73-year-old life-long racist faces the death penalty.
Miller, an avowed anti-Semite, mistakenly thought he was shooting Jews when, in fact, all three victims were Christians.
After the shootings, the FBI searched Miller’s home and found a copy of Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, three boxes of ammunition, a red t-shirt with a swastika symbol and a file folder titled, “Going underground and declaring war against the government.”
He also faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting at three other people during the gun rampage on April 13 outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom care center in Overland Park, Kansas. In addition, he is charged with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied building.
Miller reportedly is gravely ill with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Earlier this year he reportedly told fellow racist Craig Cobb that he has “one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel.”
Gunshots were fired today at a mosque in Coachella, Calif., about 120 miles east of Los Angeles, but no one was injured, authorities reported.
Four people were praying inside the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley mosque when shots were fired about 5 a.m., striking the building and a car parked outside, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Andrew Shouse told the Desert Sun newspaper.
“A reasonable person would believe when a mosque is targeted, a hate crime may be occurring,” the sheriff’s official said at the scene of the shooting.
Salah Salah, a member of the mosque’s board, expressed concern over the shooting and the initial lack of a suspect.
“Somebody drunk? Something crazy? Nothing ever happened here before,” Salah told the newspaper, adding: “We are concerned about our safety, our security.”
The 16-year-old mosque has about 90 members.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has asked the FBI to investigate.
“Any time shots are fired at a house of worship, the FBI should offer its resources to local authorities to help determine whether or not there was a bias motive for the attack,” CAIR chapter executive director Hussam Ayloush said.
When ATF agents arrested Kevin “K.C.” Massey III at a Brownsville-area hotel last week on charges that he had been illegally carrying weapons while leading border-militia patrols in Texas, they found more in his hotel room than just guns and ammo. There was also a container of ammonium nitrate and fuel—a potent bomb in the making.
According to an inventory of items taken during Massey’s arrest, an “ammo box filled with ammonium nitrate (suspected) and fuel” was found in the room, which participants at Camp LoneStar—the border-militia operation at which Massey had been dubbed a “commander”—had described as a place rented out by the camp as “a place to take a shower and get a good night’s rest.”
As the San Antonio Express-News noted in a report on the arrest, ammonium nitrate, which can be purchased as a farm fertilizer, can make a potent explosion when mixed with diesel fuel and detonated. It was the explosive Timothy McVeigh used in his 1995 terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
A little over 22 years ago, shooting broke out on a lonely Idaho mountaintop known as Ruby Ridge. The violence left a U.S. marshal and a 14-year-old boy dead, led to the death of the boy’s mother in the 11-day standoff that followed, and became, in the end, a seminal lesson in how law enforcement should not act in such situations.
Earlier this week, Retro Report, a critically acclaimed video documentary series that is distributed by The New York Times, released a thoughtful piece re-examining the 1992 FBI siege of a cabin inhabited by white supremacist Randy Weaver and his family. In the aftermath of that siege, which helped spark the militia movement of the 1990s, Weaver and another man who was in the cabin were acquitted of the murder of Marshal William Degan, and the federal government ultimately paid the surviving Weavers $3.1 million to settle their countervailing legal claims.
The film features Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and editor of its investigative magazine, Intelligence Report. “The Ruby Ridge standoff became a kind of founding myth of the radical right,” Potok says in the film. “It not only made the government look bad, it was bad. People, whatever views they had, whatever illegal activities they had [engaged in], should not be shot down by government snipers when they are not actively threatening the life of somebody.”