Millionaire Racist Clashes with Cops

Policing Extremism

Vincent Bertollini says he's in trouble for his "politically incorrect" beliefs — and that drunk driving has nothing to do with it. But that's not the opinion of the Sandpoint, Idaho, police department.

Bertollini, millionaire benefactor of neo-Nazi Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler and a founder of the small white supremacist ministry 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, suffered a black eye, a facial laceration and his latest drunken driving charge during an arrest at his home on Jan. 12.

Claiming police "threw him into the ground and pummeled him," Bertollini said he plans to file suit against Sandpoint's mayor and police officials claiming brutality, use of excessive force and violation of civil rights.

Arresting officer Chris Bell tells a different story. He says Bertollini had been swerving into the oncoming lane, that he smelled of alcohol and was virtually unable to stand up.

When Bertollini resisted arrest after pulling up at his home, the officer says he grabbed Bertollini's wrist. Bertollini then lost his balance and struck his head on the side of the garage, Bell said.

Bertollini was taken to a hospital but declined treatment.

Bertollini's arrest has caused an uproar among white supremacists, who have inundated city offices with complaints alleging brutality and put up a picture of the battered Bertollini on at least one web site. But police say that this political pressure will not deter them from prosecuting Bertollini.

Bertollini was convicted of drunk driving twice in 1998; a third conviction within five years would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine and installation of an ignition lock device in his car. The device would require the driver to pass a breath test for alcohol in order to operate the vehicle.