The same day that he led a successful anti-Semitic rally at Valley Forge, Penn., National Socialist Movement commander Jeff Schoep was exposed as an unemployed petty criminal in his local paper.
On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Schoep's troops held a white-power rally at historic Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. More than 100 white supremacists, including members of the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, came to cheer the commander's attack on Jews, whom he said were plotting "the destruction of all races through the evils of race-mixing."
When the public-address system went down 10 minutes into Schoep's invective, his supporters shot out their arms and shouted "Sieg Heil!" repeatedly until the problem was repaired.
Schoep's triumph was tarnished by an embarrassing exposé that appeared that same morning in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Based in Minnesota, the National Socialist Movement — which claims to be the nation's largest neo-Nazi organization, though it has only about 200 members — says members should be gainfully employed and positively contributing to society.
But as reporter Jon Tevlin discovered, the 30-year-old Schoep hardly fits that description himself, with a string of petty crimes on his record, including a felony arrest in 1998 for aiding and abetting a burglary.
According to court records, Schoep — who was unemployed at the time, and apparently still is — was arrested for accompanying the mother of his daughter when she stole $4,000 worth of computer equipment. Four children were in the back seat of the car during the burglary.
Schoep, who had become NSM commander four years before the incident, pleaded guilty and got off with probation — but not before District Judge Sharon Hall took him to task for gross hypocrisy.
The NSM, she pointed out, "does not condone fathering children around the countryside and taking no financial responsibility. And it does not condone the commission of crimes. I also know that your organization believes that there are various minority groups in this country that do that on a regular basis."
Schoep told the Star Tribune his crimes were "in the past," and claimed to be "taking care of my children." In the NSM, he insisted, "We stress legality and we're against people breaking the law" — though a registered sex offender, John Snyder, leads the Indiana chapter of the NSM, which puts a special emphasis on recruiting teenagers.