04/07/2005

Matthew Hale Gets Maximum 40-year Sentence

CHICAGO | White supremacist Matthew Hale faces 40 years in a federal prison after a judge yesterday gave him the maximum sentence for plotting to assassinate a federal judge.

"I consider Mr. Hale to be extremely dangerous and the offense for which he was convicted to be extremely egregious," said U.S. District Court Judge James Moody in imposing the sentence.

Hale, 33, the self-styled "Pontifex Maximus" of a group that preaches "racial holy war," showed no emotion.

The sentencing came exactly one year after his three-week trial on charges of solicitation of murder began in federal court here last year. Prosecutors convinced jurors that Hale was furious after U.S. District Court Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow ordered him to stop using the name World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) for his hate group because an Oregon-based multicultural religious group had copyrighted it.

The evidence showed that Hale asked one of his followers, Anthony Evola, who was Hale's chief of security and an FBI informant, to murder Lefkow. During the trial, jurors heard more than a dozen tapes of Hale using racial slurs, including one in which he joked about a follower's murderous shooting spree. In 1999, WCOTC member Benjamin Smith went on a rampage, targeting minorities in the Midwest before killing himself.

A predecessor organization called the Church of the Creator was dealt a devastating blow in the early 1990s when the Center obtained a $1 million judgment against it after one of its members murdered a black sailor. In 1996, Hale was named head of the obscure, nearly moribund "Church" and quickly demonstrated a gift for attracting publicity. He added "World" to its name and operated the group out of his father's home in East Peoria, Ill.