Since the early 1990s, American Front members have been involved with criminal activities, starting with juvenile acts of vandalism and violence against left-wing and anarchist targets in San Francisco in the late 1980s. However, more serious criminal incidents did not take long to emerge and the American Front developed a legacy of criminal activity that ranged from brutal hate crimes to acts of terrorism.
In May 2010, Florida American Front member Christopher Brooks pleaded guilty to one felony count of “injury to a church” in connection with an April 2009 vandalizing of a Jewish synagogue in Norfolk, Virginia. Sixty anti-Semitic stickers were found on the property of the synagogue. Brooks received a sentence of five years in prison with all but time served suspended. Police also arrested and charged John Grogan, a member of Volksfront, in the case. He pleaded guilty to two counts of injuries to a church or cemetery and two charges of conspiring to commit a felony. Grogan was sentenced to five years in prison and 25 additional years of supervised probation. Brooks’ close friend and fellow AFer Richard Adam Stockdale of St. Cloud served time in 2010 for battery charges.
In March 2010, American Front member Kent McLellan of Crescent City, Florida, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after being convicted of a September 2008 vandalism of a restaurant and church. McLellan claimed he spray painted swastikas, “white power,” and “RAHOWA” (which signifies “Racial Holy War,” a battle cry used by white supremacists) on the buildings because the church allegedly tried to convert him and because patrons of the restaurant allegedly mocked his skinhead attire.
In 2006, David Lance Gardner, a member of American Front, received a 105-month federal prison sentence for a brutal attack on an African-American bicyclist in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2005. According to another defendant, Robby Wayne Baalman, Gardner said the attack would be Baalman’s initiation into the group. Gardner himself said that the beating occurred “to raise awareness that skinheads are out there which sent a message that these are our streets, white streets, and to show them that this is a white country that whites had built.” Baalman received a 57-month sentence. In September 2007, a third defendant, Keith Wayne Cotter, received a reduced sentence and is due to be released from prison in May 2008. (Cotter provided a written statement to federal prosecutors about his co-defendants in addition to information about attacks carried out by members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance in 2002 and 2003.)
In Riverside, California, a self-admitted member of the American Front, Robert Clyde, was arrested in 2001 on charges of making terrorist threats, battery and a hate crime, after an incident in which he allegedly stabbed and beat an African-American man until the victim fended him off. Clyde pleaded guilty to making a hate-based criminal threat and was sentenced to probation. Three months later, he violated probation and was sentenced to 16 months in state prison.
In Missouri, in 1998, former American Front leader James Porazzo received a one-year prison sentence (as did another American Front member, Lazaro Sotelo), after pleading guilty to assault for attacking a member of the group Anti-Racist Action in Springfield. The judge suspended the sentence, however, ordering them to attend anger counseling, perform community service, and to quit the American Front.
In 1997, Colorado skinhead Jeremiah Mark Barnum, who sported Aryan Nations and American Front tattoos, participated in the slaying of a West African immigrant in Denver (and the paralyzing of a second victim) in 1997. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the murder.
In Pennsylvania, in 1995, a white supremacist and former American Front member, Mason Aldrich, was convicted of institutional vandalism by desecration and other charges for desecrating a synagogue in Springettsbury Township by hanging a pig’s head on its door.
In 1994, American Front member Mark Frank Kowaalski (also known as Mark Stevenson) received an 11 ½ year sentence for participating in the bombing of an NAACP meeting hall in Tacoma, Washington, in order to ignite a race war against Jews and minorities. The plotters also blew up a gay bar.
Also in 1994, another American Front member, Christopher Lord, pleaded guilty to a variety of charges related to a drive-by shooting targeting a Eugene, Oregon, synagogue. He received a 54-month sentence; another perpetrator received 57 months in prison.
Several early criminal acts involved Robert Quincy Smith, a Georgia skinhead and American Front organizer, who was repeatedly charged with minor crimes in the late 1980s. In February 1990, Smith was convicted of aggravated assault for severely beating a teenage follower whom he suspected of disloyalty (the youth required plastic surgery to reconstruct his face).
That same year, American Front member Michael Gilbert Ortiz received a nine-year prison sentence after he and other members attacked a pair of anti-racist skinheads, one of whom later died from stab wounds.
Also in 1990, in Florida, after absorbing a small Daytona Beach gang into its ranks, members of the American Front brutally beat one of its members when they found out he was Jewish. Though they left him for dead, he managed to survive, which led to the conviction of two of his attackers for attempted murder, and two more for assault and battery.