The Blotter, Winter 2006

Updates on Extremism and the Law

July 3
Two white men in Clarendon County, S.C., were charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old black girl and a black woman in what officials described as racially motivated attacks. Police said that one of the two, Jeremy Shaw Sweat, 24, had links to a Ku Klux Klan group.

July 27
A federal jury in California convicted four leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood -- Barry "The Baron" Mills, Tyler "The Hulk" Bingham, Edgar "The Snail" Hevle and Christopher Overton Gibson -- on charges that they used murder and intimidation to protect their drug-dealing operations behind bars. All told, more than a dozen people face the death penalty in a federal racketeering case involving dozens of murders that aims to dismantle the notoriously vicious prison gang.

Aug. 9
A member of the Nazi Low Riders, a white supremacist prison gang, was arrested for allegedly conspiring to kill a Crestline, Calif., police officer. Michael David Cottler is suspected of plotting with Michael McGee to kill an officer who was to testify against McGee in a pending criminal case. Cottler has been in and out of prison for the last decade.

Aug. 16
Two white supremacist brothers in Oregon pleaded guilty to smashing synagogue windows with rocks engraved with swastikas during a service. Jacob Laskey, one-time prison affairs coordinator for the neo-Nazi Volksfront group, and Gabriel Laskey face sentences of up to 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy and 20 years for damaging religious property in the 2002 attack on Temple Beth Israel in Eugene. Jacob Laskey also faces an array of other charges related to weapons violations and several alleged attempts to have witnesses in the case murdered. In 1994, another man tied to Volksfront fired 10 armor-piercing bullets into Temple Beth Israel.

Aug. 23
Troy Stafford of Belleville, Ill., who claims affiliation with the recently created neo-Nazi group National Socialist Freedom Movement of Clifford Herrington and recent membership in the National Socialist Movement of Jeff Schoep, was indicted for threatening in two letters to kill President Bush in a bomb attack. Stafford faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted.

Sept. 6
A jury found Michael Williams guilty in the death of Rose Johnston, who was stabbed and burned to death in a Madera County, Calif., orchard. The jury also found that Williams' murder of Johnston, whom he had never met, was related to his involvement in a white supremacist gang, the Small Town Peckerwoods. The other defendant in the case hung himself in prison before the trial began.

Sept. 8
A police raid on the home of a Chicago firefighter netted more than 60 guns and a host of Nazi paraphernalia, including a bulletproof vest with swastika patches and posters of Adolf Hitler. Ted Kozak, 55, was charged with two counts of felony unlawful use of a weapon by Cook County prosecutors. Police said that other arrests could follow and that the investigation was ongoing.

Sept. 11
Federal prosecutors charged David McMenemy of Sterling Heights, Mich., with second-degree arson affecting interstate commerce after he allegedly crashed his car into the Edgerton Women's Health Center in Davenport, Iowa, in an attempt to destroy the clinic that he mistakenly believed provided abortions. According to the National Abortion Federation, there have been 305 arson attacks and bombings or attempted bombings directed at abortion clinics since 1977.

Sept. 27
Neo-Nazi
skinhead James Torkelson was extradited from Oregon to California to face charges of carrying out two murders during a robbery in San Diego County. If convicted, Torkelson could face the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison, on top of the 40-year sentence he is currently serving for kidnapping and assault in Oregon. Torkelson was arrested in January 2002 while leaving a property owned by a Ku Klux Klan member that county police had placed under surveillance.