How Klan Lawyer Sam Dickson Got Rich
The former Klan lawyer from Atlanta has always been interested in money. What's remarkable is how he's been able to earn it.
by Alexander Zaitchik
If Dickson had managed to gain title and "flip" Deborah Hobson's property, he would have deposited the profits with a chuckle. The entity Dickson employed in the Hobson case was named "Community Renewal and Redemption LLC" -- a cynical ploy in light of Dickson's profound loathing for blacks and hostility toward any "community" other than the white race. Other ironically titled limited liability companies organized by Dickson in recent years include "Progressive Development Alliance LLC," "United Community Redemption LLC," "United Community Uplift LLC," and "Teutoberg Collections LLC."
The last of these is a not-so-sly reference to the forest in which German tribes defeated Roman legions in the first century A.D. The name may have been the idea of Dickson's main business partner and heir apparent, 31-year-old Joshua Buckley. Like Dickson, Buckley took to extreme-right politics young, joining the violent neo-Nazi organization SS of America in 1991. (He is no longer a member.) Currently, Buckley publishes Tyr, an annual "radical traditionalist" anthology named after the pre-Christian, Germanic god of the sky. The collections "celebrate the myths, culture, and social institutions of pre-Christian, pre-modern Europe," an age of zero immigration and tall, blond forest tribes living out a martial, pagan ethos. While mostly backward looking, Tyr does feature interviews with contemporary figures like Alain de Benoist, the prolific French writer, historian and founder of the far-right think-tank Nouvelle Droit (New Right).
In business as in ideology, Buckley is Dickson's protégé. Together they have mastered the art of buying tax deeds, tracking down vulnerable heirs, entering their lives, and getting what they want.
Dealing With the Devil
Summer Hill. Pittsburgh. Grant Park. The Bluff.
A decade ago, small overgrown plots in these Atlanta neighborhoods were ignored by real estate developers. Today, as Atlanta continues to sprawl in every direction, feeding off its reputation as cosmopolitan hub of the New South and drawing thousands of young professionals back to the city, these once-neglected neighborhoods are hot -- "hotter than a firecracker," according to one local developer.
As competition for tax delinquent property in this environment increases, so does the presence of Sam Dickson and his protégé, Joshua Buckley. While growing their business, say many of their peers, they've changed the rules of the game. Once upon a time, prospectors respected each other's investments, but Sam Dickson was apparently the first to break this unwritten rule and is notorious for aggressively feeding off the work and investments of others by finding a back door into fractured ownership situations.
"Sam Dickson is essentially the terrorist of the Atlanta real estate community," says Andy Desmond, an Atlanta-based real estate genealogist, "if we define terrorist as one who is determined to win at any cost, with little or no regard for fairness, disclosure, truth, and compromise."
"Those of us who work within established rules to resolve tax delinquencies and repair fractured real estate titles despise him, not just the heirs whom he strong-arms," says Desmond. "I'm surprised his non-disclosure, half-truth, and bullying tactics haven't led to censure or disbarment, but I have no doubt they'll eventually catch up with him."
Whatever his business rivals may think of his tactics, those in the black community are just as disturbed by his politics.
"If any of these people he approaches knew who he was, they'd want nothing to do with him," says Dan West, Dickson's white former colleague.
Indeed, Dickson goes out of his way to conceal his racial views while playing the role of developer in Atlanta's black neighborhoods. The Klan attorney even donated $4,000 to the black-owned SUMMECH Community Development Corporation, according to Janis Ware, the group's executive director and the former president of the Atlanta Housing Authority. When making his tax-deductible donation to the affordable housing developer, Dickson told Ware that he "appreciated what [she] was doing for the community."
When he said this, Dickson likely appeared as a sweet and sincere Southern gentleman, as he did at first to Deborah Hobson, who later would feel shame at being taken in by Dickson, even for a moment.
"The devil doesn't always come at you with red horns and pitchfork," she says.
Hobson isn't the only person who's run into Dickson to invoke Satan in describing the man and his racket.
Komicheal Johnson runs the black-owned Atlanta development firm, J.L.W. Homes and Communities. Over the years he's bought numerous properties from Dickson, and has only recently become aware of his views on race. While he would prefer not to deal with Dickson at all, he says it's not so simple. If he doesn't buy Dickson's property, another developer will, one that builds poor quality or unaffordable homes, and who does not have strong community backing.
"I've seen it at least 10 times," says Johnson. "I'll pass on a piece of Dickson's property. Then he'll sell it to someone who makes a terrible product. He's a nutcase, no doubt, but my hands are tied. How do you deal with the devil?"