Longtime racist and Christian Identity leader August Byron Kreis III, who now leads a splinter faction of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, faces three felonies for allegedly cheating the U.S. government he despises so much.
Arresting Kreis and getting him to U.S. District Court is the next challenge facing federal authorities. Kreis says he won’t surrender voluntarily.
Kreis, a virulent 56-year-old who applauded the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is named in a three-count federal indictment just returned in Columbia, S.C. A current resident of South Fulton, Tenn., he is charged with two counts of filing fraudulent statements to obtain veterans benefits, once in August 2006 and again in February 2008, federal court documents show. The third count accuses him of embezzling, stealing and converting to his own use more than $1,000 belonging to the United States.
On his Aryan Nations website, Kreis said he was told in a letter to voluntarily surrender and appear tomorrow in Columbia before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph McCrorey. Kreis wrote that a U.S. probation officer told him that if he didn’t appear, a warrant will be issued for his arrest. Kreis said that he won’t voluntarily travel to South Carolina and surrender.
“I advised him that I am handicapped, one leg and half a foot, and I now reside 800 miles away from Columbia, S.C.,” Kreis wrote. When the probation officer suggested postponing the arraignment date, “I told him that I was both physically and financially unable to appear this far away, no matter the date.
“I further advised him that if I were under arrest, then it would be ZOG’s obligation to see that I appeared before all that demanded my appearance and that I’d much rather have it that way,” Kreis wrote. ZOG is an acronym for Zionist Occupied Government, a phrase used by American neo-Nazis who believe the federal government is completely controlled by Jews.
Aryan Nations was once one of the three most important hate groups in America, putting on annual Aryan World Congresses that drew many factions of the radical right to the group’s headquarters in northern Idaho. But the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the group and its leader Richard Butler in 2000, ultimately leading to a multimillion-dollar judgment against it and the forced sale of its headquarters compound. Kreis has been one of several people vying to bring the group back to its glory days under Butler, but has not been successful.
Like Butler, Kreis is an adherent of the Christian Identity theology, a racist reading of the Bible that claims Jews are the biological descendants of a mating of Eve and Satan, and also sees people of color as soulless “beasts of the field.”
Beth Drake, a press spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean Eichelberger, who is handling the current case against Kreis, both declined comment.
“The indictment alleges that Kreis provided false information about whether he had any income in reports that he submitted to the Department of Veterans Affairs,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a brief news release. (In white power circles, Kreis was frequently mocked during the 1990s because he seemed to live largely off welfare payments made to his then-teenage wife.)
The maximum penalty Kreis could receive on the theft of government funds count is 10 years imprisonment. On each of the two false statement counts, he could receive up to 5 years imprisonment. Each count also carries a possible fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the FBI.
Kreis has been involved in racist groups and activities for four decades – from the Posse Comitatus to the Ku Klux Klan to the Aryan Nations.
Known for his fiery temper and outspoken racist views, he has advocated the mass murder of Jews, non-whites and so-called race traitors. He also promotes “lone wolf” domestic terrorism.
After the attacks of 9/11, Kreis applauded the terrorists, believing they shared his anti-Jewish views. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Kreis said on his website.
His criminal history goes back to 1991 when he was arrested for disorderly conduct at an Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan march in Lancaster, Pa.
In 1997, a judge in Pennsylvania issued a protective order prohibiting Kreis from any contact with his ex-wife or his oldest daughter after they alleged that Kreis physically and sexually abused their children for the past several years.
In 1998, Kreis was charged with harassment and disorderly conduct after he allegedly threatened two elderly neighbors he suspected of supporting an anti-racist group of ministers in Potter County, Pa., where he lived at the time. The charges later were dropped.