Posted: July 29, 2002
Two white supremacists were found guilty on July 26, 2002, of plotting to blow up Jewish and Black landmarks in Boston in an attempt to ignite a racial war between Blacks and whites. A federal jury convicted Leo Felton, 31, and Erica Chase, 22, of conspiring to build a destructive device, counterfeiting, obstruction of justice, and several firearms violations. Felton was also found guilty of bank robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and trying to obtain explosives with the intent to kill and injure and to damage property.
"The judgements against Leo Felton and Erica Chase have affirmed our commitment to preserving the rule of law. Both defendants had the benefit of a full and fair trial and justice has been served," Robert Leikind, the Anti-Defamation League's Boston Regional Director, said in a statement. "A strong message has been sent that ouir law enforcement agencies are committed to fighting domestic terrorism."
Prosecutors asserted that Felton planned to bomb monuments of significance to Jews and Blacks in the Boston area, as well as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. One possible Boston target was the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, named after the respected civil rights leader and former director of ADL's Boston Regional Office. Felton also sought to assassinate prominent blacks and Jews, such as Steven Spielberg and Jesse Jackson. According to prosecutors, he intended to finance his attacks through counterfeiting and a series of bank robberies.
Chase and Felton were arrested in April 2001 after Chase tried to pass a phony $20 bill at a doughnut shop in Boston. A subsequent search of the apartment the pair shared uncovered bomb making plans and materials, along with sketches depicting a series of attacks on blacks and Jews. A collection of news clippings discussing Jewish and black institutions was also found, including some focusing on the New England Holocaust Memorial.
Felton, a convicted felon covered in neo-Nazi tattoos (including the word "skinhead" on his scalp), was a member of several white supremacist groups, including East Coast Aryan Brotherhood, a violent white supremacist prison gang, and the White Order of Thule, which embraces Nordic symbolism and mythology. Chase was a member of the racist and anti-Semitic World Church of the Creator, and was active in a prison outreach program run by that organization.
Felton was serving time in New Jersey for the attempted murder of a black cab driver when Chase began writing to him. They corresponded for a year before Felton was released in early 2001. He relocated to Boston after his release, where Chase joined him, and where they began to buy the materials necessary to implement their plan.
According to federal sentencing guidelines, Felton faces a minimum of 35 years in prison, while Chase is likely to receive a sentence of eight years. In a final wrinkle to the case, it was revealed during the trial that Felton is the son of an interracial couple who were active in the civil rights movement during the 1960s.