The Blotter: Spring 2003
The last year has seen a remarkable series of arrests and other legal actions against the radical right. In addition to the major leaders whose troubles are documented elsewhere, a large number of white supremacists and other antigovernment activists have been arrested for crimes ranging from weapons violations to bombing plots to murder. Here, in chronological order, is a list of many such incidents in 2002 and the first two months of 2003:
Charlie Puckett, commander of the paramilitary Kentucky State Militia, turned himself in to authorities on April 4 after three weeks on the lam. Puckett had been arrested in February on federal weapons charges, then slipped out of an electronic house-arrest monitor and fled. In May, Puckett pleaded guilty to two weapons charges and one count of intimidating a witness, landing a 30-month prison sentence.
JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C.
After getting a tip about a plot to blow up the local sheriff's office, the county jail and the sheriff himself, federal and local law enforcements officers arrested Charles Barefoot Jr., fiery leader of the Nation's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, on July 19. After the arrest, a search of Barefoot's home uncovered an Uzi and an AK-47, two homemade bombs and bomb-making materials.
In January, Barefoot pleaded guilty to weapons charges. While he awaited sentencing, his wife and three other local Klan members were charged with the murder of an unidentified man. The victim was allegedly killed because he knew about threats against law enforcement officers supposedly made by Anthony Brewer, grand dragon (or state leader) of a Klan faction based in nearby Robeson County.
Two members of a neo-Nazi terror cell, Leo Felton and Erica Chase, were convicted on July 26 in a conspiracy to bomb Jewish and African-American landmarks and leaders. Felton, a White Order of Thule member who planned the cell with members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, was sentenced to more than 20 years on multiple federal counts. Chase, who had ties to the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator and the Outlaw Hammerskins gang, received a lesser sentence.
When police answered a domestic dispute call on Aug. 22, they ended up searching the townhome of podiatrist Robert Goldstein, uncovering plans and ammunition for a series of attacks on Islamic targets in Florida. Goldstein, who was reportedly seeking to retaliate for the Sept. 11 attacks and the Palestinian intifada, faces up to 30 years in prison. His wife, Kristi, charged in October with being his accomplice, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a plea bargain.
On Oct. 3, FBI agents seized pipe bombs, homemade land mines, 13 firearms and 13,000 rounds of ammunition from antigovernment activist Larry Raugust, who was arrested on seven federal counts and held without bond. A member of the Idaho Mountain Boys militia group, Raugust is also an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to kill U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge.
Lodge handled the murder trial of white supremacist Randy Weaver, who reportedly inspired Raugust's antigovernment passions. (Weaver was acquitted of the murder charges.) Raugust has asked to represent himself at his trial, scheduled to begin June 9.
When an Oct. 16 brawl spilled out of the River City Pockets pool hall, police say three white supremacists viciously attacked 20-year-old Cole Bailey Jr., who was standing nearby waiting for a taxi after applying for a job at the club. The three allegedly chased, tackled and stomped Bailey to death while yelling "white power."
Two of the suspects, National Alliance members Sammy Compton and Christopher "Cracker" Whitley, eluded police for several weeks before they were arrested and charged with murder. The victim's father, Cole Bailey Sr., personally apprehended Whitley after more than two months of hunting him down.
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
Jewish Defense League (JDL) National Director Irv Rubin, charged with plotting to bomb a mosque and a congressman's office, was declared brain dead on Nov. 4 after slashing his throat and then plunging from a balcony in an apparent suicide in federal prison.
Rubin's second-in-command at JDL, Earl Krugel, subsequently pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the plot and faces 10 to 20 years behind bars. The JDL hate group leaders were arrested in December 2001, after Krugel instructed an FBI informant to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Calif.
Benjamin Matthew Williams, a devotee of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity religion who teamed with his little brother to fire-bomb three California synagogues and an abortion clinic, killed himself in Shasta County Jail on Nov. 17. His trial for murdering a gay couple — a crime he said was "God's will" in a confession to newspaper reporters — had been scheduled to start this January. Williams had recently been convicted of attempting to kill a corrections officer with a hachet in a botched escape attempt.
SANTA ANA AND LONG BEACH, CALIF.
Three of Southern California's most active neo-Nazis were arrested on Nov. 18. Christine Greenwood and boyfriend John Patrick McCabe, members of Blood and Honor, were charged with possessing bomb-making materials. Greenwood founded Women for Aryan Unity, a group closely affiliated with the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator, and launched an "Aryan Baby Drive" to distribute food and clothing to poor white families.
John Frederick Steele II, head of the "Brandenburg Division" of the Aryan Nations, was arrested on weapons charges. During a search of his apartment, investigators said they found a letter advocating that the Aryan Nations partner with Islamic extremists.
CHEROKEE COUNTY, N.C.
Federal authorities searched more than a year before nabbing Steve Anderson, a white-supremacist shortwave radio operator and former stalwart of the Kentucky State Militia, on Nov. 22. Anderson had fled into the woods in October 2001 after allegedly firing 25 shots with an automatic at a sheriff's deputy who had stopped him for a traffic violation. After his arrest in the mountains of North Carolina, a federal grand jury indicted Anderson on 18 counts of weapons charges.
James D. Brailey, a former member of the antigovernment Jural Society who had recently attended a meeting of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement, was arrested this Jan. 18 on firearms charges. Authorities have also accused him of plotting to kill Washington Gov. Gary Locke (see Patriot Crimes).
On Jan. 23, armed FBI and Secret Service agents raided the home of Byron Calvert, a former National Alliance staff member who owns the neo-Nazi Web site www.tightrope.com. Calvert, who was not arrested, sent an E-mail message to supporters saying the agents seized "10 shitloads" of stuff under the pretext of a copyright infringement for Nike/Nazi shirts he had made.
Dwight York, founder and leader of the black supremacist hate group Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 to 77 state charges of molesting 13 children of his cult members. York was sentenced to between 15 and 50 years in federal prison (see Black Nationalism).
White supremacist Tracy Hampton was sentenced to death on Jan. 24 for murdering his two housemates in 2000. Prosecutors said Hampton killed one of the housemates, Tanya Ramsdell, because he believed her unborn baby had been fathered by a black man. Hampton, who had a "White Power" tattoo to go along with an extensive criminal record, smiled and stretched as the death sentence was read.
Former Army intelligence officer Rafael Davila and his ex-wife Deborah Davila were arrested on Feb. 4 after a grand jury indicted them for unlawfully possessing top-secret military documents. Deborah Davila, who has ties to the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, was also charged with attempting to disseminate the documents for profit (see Spy vs. Spy).
Craig Allen Jackson, an ex-Marine who worked on President Reagan's Camp David security detail and later became a local leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, died in a single-car crash on his way to court on Feb. 11. Jackson was expected to plead guilty to one count accepting bribes in the Maryland Correctional Institution, where he worked as an officer.
LAS VEGAS, NEV.
On Feb. 11, agents of the Internal Revenue Service raided the office of Irwin Schiff, longtime producer of books and videos that encourage people not to pay income tax. Schiff, who calls the IRS the "Instant Robbery Service," said agents spent more than six hours carting away materials. At press time, Schiff faced no charges.
Joshua Caleb Sutter, former minister for Islamic liaison with the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, was arrested on Feb. 12 when he tried to buy an unmarked pistol from undercover agents.
Sutter, who attracted the FBI's attention by trying to form alliances with anti-American Islamist groups after 9-11, posted a "message of solidarity and support" to Saddam Hussein on the Aryan Nations Web site last March, expressing his hope that "the evil regime of the United States ... shall be utterly wiped off the face of the earth."
SANTA FE, N.M.
Former Minutemen Militia member Raymond Kodiak Sandoval was arrested on Feb. 14 in connection with two anti-environmental crimes: putting a pipe bomb in an environmental group's mailbox and setting a forest fire in June 1998 that scorched more than 5,100 acres of the Jemez Mountains and nearby Pueblo land. It took more than 800 firefighters and $3.5 million to contain the blaze. Sandoval, who reportedly started his own militia after leaving the Minutemen, could serve up to 70 years if convicted.
David Wayne Hull, imperial wizard (or national leader) of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested on Feb. 13 and charged with making a pipe bomb and trading it to an FBI informant for a cell phone. Hull, who was held for trial without bond, had first alarmed authorities when he tried to buy 10 hand grenades from the informant, saying he needed them to attack abortion clinics.