Aryan Nations Leaders Richard Butler and August Kreis Work to Keep Christian Identity Movement Alive
Kreis has continued his struggle with dogged persistence, however, lashing out at those who oppose him. Since 1994, when Wolf, Orbaker and other area ministers residents spearheaded a response to Kreis called Potter County United, Kreis has waged a campaign of harassment.
At two forums organized by the group, Kreis turned up with supporters and videotaped the proceedings. A participant at one forum recalls that Kreis warned of cross burnings, said he'd bring in "KKK, neo-Nazis and Skinheads" if the meetings continued, and proclaimed, "I'm recruiting your kids."
During the past five years, numerous ministers involved in Potter County United have reported threats and intimidation at the hands of Kreis. "We will be watching you," Kreis warned in an e-mail to all of the ministers, attaching a picture of himself with a gun. "You will pay the ultimate price."
In another e-mail, Kreis warned one pastor, "We're keeping an eye on you. ... [Y]ou're doing Lucifer's work ... [and] you will all pay."
In 1998, Kreis was accused of making terroristic threats against two elderly white neighbors whom he suspected of being in Potter County United. He allegedly pulled a gun on them and said he'd burn down their house.
In fact, police have lodged numerous charges against Kreis in recent years — none of which stuck in the end — for his alleged threats and harassment of those disagree with him.
Floyd Cochran, a former Aryan Nations member who now is involved in antiracism work in Pennsylvania, recalls an encounter at a local gas station. "I was sitting in my car, and he came to my window and said something unkind about my mother," according to Cochran. "He said, 'Is there anything I can do to make you come out of the car and take a swing at me?'"
Cochran filed charges after another incident, when a teenager in his yard was allegedly warned by Kreis, "Tell Floyd to leave Coudersport or we're going to get him."
Kreis also had a vendetta against another former white supremacist, Sal Ganci, a one-time member of the Posse and Kreis' now defunct Messiah's Militia who left both groups and disavowed them in the Leader-Enterprise. Following a parking lot encounter with Ganci's wife and mother, when Kreis allegedly said he'd give the family's address to Skinheads, he faced another harassment suit.
None of the charges stemming from these incidents has stuck in the end, but Kreis' alleged aggression against his former family has resulted in legal intervention. His ex-wife charged that Kreis had abused their three children, and one daughter claimed that he had also sexually molested her.
In the end, two protective orders were issued against Kreis, prohibiting him from contacting, harassing or threatening any of the four.
Finding His Identity
Kreis' violent political rhetoric matches his personal comportment, with Jews usually emerging as his primary targets. "We/You Must make a stand," Kreis recently wrote on his Posse Comitatus site, "and let the world know very loudly, in a way they will understand, wake up and pay attention that His Children are NOT going to take it any longer!"
"That we are completely fed up with what these parasitic jews have done to our country over the last 200+ years and we want them OUT by whatever means necessary!"
"If they want our guns so very bad [sic] ... then let's give 'em to them LEAD FIRST!"
Kreis didn't always say such things publicly. After dropping out of high school and spending time on a naval vessel off the coast of Vietnam, he returned to his hometown of Newark, N.J., and was soon working for a Jewish developer.
Whatever anti-Semitic feelings he did harbor, he "separated ... personal beliefs from business." Besides, the main enemies, as he saw things then, were the blacks who were moving in and changing the place where he grew up.
Kreis was fired from his job in 1981, after holding Klan meetings "in a complex that was 90 percent Jewish and owned by a Jew." He then moved around with his wife and three children, finding a home near Easton, Pa., until unpaid utility bills caught up with him. His water was shut off, his house condemned, and he was forced to move to a plot bought by his brother.
Eventually Kreis' first marriage broke up, and in his mid-30s he wedded a teenager named Karley. He took custody of the children whom he'd eventually be barred from seeing, and in the early 1990s moved to his current residence in Ulysses.
During his geographical wanderings, Kreis apparently underwent an ideological shift. "In the beginning, I thought the blacks were the problem," Kreis told the Buffalo News in 1995. "I didn't understand there was an underlying cause. ... The Jew is the enemy of all races on the planet."
Jews are actually the biological spawn of Satan, Kreis came to believe, and people of color — soulless "mud people" — their minions. This is what he learned as he left the Klan and adopted Christian Identity as his creed.
His mentor was long-time Identity minister James Wickstrom, a man who as "national director of counter-insurgency" organized paramilitary training for the Posse Comitatus during the 1980s.
During that decade, the Posse was blamed for the deaths of at least two law enforcement officers as well as numerous other violent incidents. But by the time Kreis became Wickstrom's second-in-command, in the early 1990s, the Posse was essentially an ideological enterprise.
When Wickstrom went to Michigan to serve out his parole on a prior conviction, Kreis assumed stewardship of the remnants of the Posse. Today, he is the man responsible for assembling the hodge-podge of links and propaganda that is the "Sheriff's Posse Comitatus" website. On topics ranging from Russian politics to the Palestinian-Israel conflict to Election 2000 to Russian politics, he offers virulently anti-Semitic spins.