Hatewatch

Fundraising Drive Under Way to Help Jailed White Supremacist

August B. Kreis III, who calls himself the director of the Aryan Nations, will remain in jail in South Carolina unless he can come up with a $50,000 secured bond. A wealthy, elusive racist, who once bought a house for the late Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, already is heading up an Internet fundraiser for Kreis.

The bond was set by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph R. McCrorey in Columbia, S.C., today at the conclusion of a detention hearing for Kreis, who faces federal fraud and embezzlement charges. A trial date in September is expected.

Kreis, a 56-year-old longtime racist with former ties to Posse Comitatus, peacefully surrendered to the local sheriff in Fulton, Tenn., earlier this month after earlier telling federal authorities he was ready to die in a gun battle. The sheriff turned Kreis over to the U.S. Marshals Service, which transported him to South Carolina.

A grand jury in South Carolina returned an indictment last month charging Kreis with two counts of filing fraudulent statements to obtain veterans benefits, once in August 2006 and again in February 2008. A third count accuses him of embezzling, stealing and converting to his own use more than $1,000 belonging to the United States.

After getting the paperwork in the mail, Kreis called the U.S. Probation Office in Columbia, S.C. The probation officer who took that call testified at Friday’s hearing that Kreis was confrontational when he called May 25. The paperwork asked Kreis to provide personal background information for a pre-trial release assessment by the U.S. Probation Office and to surrender in South Carolina.

“He told the probation officer if they (federal authorities) wanted him in South Carolina, they could arrest him’’ in Tennessee, ’’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean Eichelberger said after the hearing.

The probation officer testified that during the telephone call, Kreis said,  “If authorities surrounded his house (in Tennessee) he would send his family out and shoot it out with authorities because at his age he no longer gives a (expletive).”

A day or so later, Kreis sent the probation officer a follow-up E-mail that was less threatening and confrontational. “He acknowledged receipt of the official letter and said he was unable to appear in South Carolina for physical and financial reasons,’’ the probation officer testified.

Kreis said he “was in no way refusing” to surrender but said he would do so to local, not federal authorities. “That’s in fact what he did,’’ Eichelberger said.

The federal prosecutor had argued that Kreis be held without bond because he was a flight risk.

Referring to Kreis’ long-history of antigovernment rants, the prosecutor told the court: “The overall approach of this individual to the government is indicative of how he likely would respond” if released now.

The prosecutor also told the court that Kreis calls himself the “director of the Aryan Nations” and, as such, has followers who continue to support his cause. Kreis’ arrest is getting some attention in white supremacist circles, primarily on Internet hate sites.

A fund-raising effort, backed by a YouTube video, is now under way on Kreis’ behalf, Eichelberger told the court, without publicly identifying that supporter.

The supporter, in fact, is the same wealthy racist who came to the financial aid of the late Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler a decade ago, Hatewatch has learned.

R. Vincent Bertollini, who now uses the alias Vince Bert, described Kreis as “a great warrior” and urged others advocating white supremacy and white separatism to provide financial aid to Kreis and his wife and children.

Bertollini bought Butler a house in Hayden, Idaho, in 2000 after the Aryan Nations founder filed for bankruptcy. Butler lost his 20-acre Aryan compound after being hit with a $6.3 million jury award in a 2000 civil suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The residence Bertollini helped finance became the new headquarters for Butler’s Aryan Nations until his death in September 2004.

Bertollini, a former Silicon Valley technology executive, was co-founder of a Christian Identity hate group called “11th Hour Remnant Messenger” when he moved to North Idaho in the late 1990s. Three drunk driving arrests later, he fled Idaho and became a federal fugitive, only to be caught by the FBI in the Southwest with a sawed-off shotgun.

Three days out of prison, Bertollini resumed his Internet hate activities in Santa Fe, N.M., last year under the name “Vince Bert.”

Kreis’ Aryan Nations website says he “has dedicated his life to the preservation of our race, and now needs your financial support to thwart the personal attack now being waged against him by the occupational government.’’ The posting by “anonymous” said the criminal charges brought against Kreis are the work of the “Jewish Occupational Government.”

“It has been the goal of the Jew and their cronies to systematically eliminate the key holders and leaders of our race, one by one, to further their agenda of destroying every Aryan society in hopes of demoralizing our people into submission,’’ the site said.

But Kreis, who has had medical amputations because of complications from diabetes, is still “willing to lead the fight and show you we as a people can defeat our enemies.”

“Pastor Kreis, with only one leg no less, is willing to stand up to our enemies and show the world that we as a people will not back down, will never surrender our souls to the Jew,’’ the Aryan Nations posting says.