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Last Updated October 30, 1998

 

Calendar of Conspiracy, Volume 2, Number 3: A Chronology of Anti-Government Extremist Criminal Activity, July to September 1998

A Militia Watchdog Special Report

 

INTRODUCTION

The following is a chronology of some of the events surrounding anti-government criminal activity in the United States during the third quarter of the year 1998. It illustrates both the scope of such activity—from large-scale acts of terrorism to local acts of harassment and intimidation—and its geographic extent—from major cities like Los Angeles to remote rural areas in Texas and Washington. The chronology is not comprehensive. Although all major events are included, no systemized reporting system exists for smaller scale events. As a result, arrests or convictions for charges such as placing bogus liens, impersonating public officials, committing tax-related crimes or similar offenses are considerably underrepresented in this report. Such activities occur with a very high level of frequency across the nation. Some examples are included in this chronology to give some indication of the type of activities of this sort that take place. This report also generally does not include hate crimes, although occasionally extraordinary hate crimes are reported, because the line sometimes blurs between hate crimes and other extremist criminal activity. This report includes events from twenty-nine states, but activity occurs in every state in the country.

 

JULY

July 1, 1998, Texas: Three members of the extremist group known as the Republic of Texas are arrested near Brownsville on charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Suspects Johnnie Wise, Jack Grebe, Jr., and Oliver Emigh are accused of a bizarre plot to kill top government officials, including President Clinton, using a lighter rigged to eject a poison dart.

July 1, 1998, Arizona: An arrest warrant is issued for militia leader and shortwave broadcaster William Cooper after the militiaman fails to appear in federal court for his trial on fraud and income tax evasion. Cooper, holed up in his home in Eagar, Arizona, promises violence if authorities try to arrest him. As authorities wait, he continues to publish his newspaper and make his radio show broadcasts.

July 2, 1998, Montana: Six members of the Montana Freemen are found guilty on numerous charges, but the jury deadlocks on many others. The jury acquits Cherlyn Peterson, Richard Clark and Dale Jacobi on charges related to weapons possession and armed robbery of TV news crews. However, the jury finds Freeman leader LeRoy Schweitzer guilty on 21 different counts, most related to bank, wire and mail fraud. Also guilty are Daniel Peterson, five counts; Rodney Skurdal, 2 counts; Dale Jacobi, three counts; Richard Clark, two counts; Russell Landers, three counts.

July 2, 1998, Minnesota: Tax protester Milton Bigalk is sentenced to almost five years in prison for his role in a scheme to avoid taxes by creating a sham company called Freemen and Associates, as well as various fraudulent trusts. His cousin, Kenneth Bigalk, receives a four-month prison sentence.

July 2, 1998, Alabama: A camouflaged gun man shoots at an armored car in West Blocton, Alabama, then sets off tear gas outside a bank. Authorities following the man into nearby woods discover the area is booby-trapped with four pipe bombs; they suspect the man was trying to lure authorities into the booby-trapped area. The armored car company has had three previous attacks on its cars since 1992, none solved. Local authorities suspect either a militia group or someone with a vendetta against the armored car company. None of the cars were robbed.

July 7, 1998, Missouri: The Missouri Court of Appeals rules that thirteen common law court activists convicted on charges of interfering with a judicial officer should have another trial. The appeals court says that the judge in the case should not have denied the defendants’ request to remove himself from the case.

July 7, 1998, Washington: White supremacists Chevie Kehoe and Danny Lee are indicted for an April 1996 pipe bombing of the Spokane City Hall, as part of their attempt to inspire a white revolution and establish an Aryan People’s Republic. The indictment, expanded from an earlier one, now lists 57 separate crimes, including five murders. Faron Lovelace, on death row in Idaho, is an unindicted member of the conspiracy. Kirby Kehoe, father of Chevie, is also in the indictment. He is in prison on weapons charges. Another Kehoe son, Cheyne, and Kirby Kehoe’s wife, Gloria, have cooperated with federal agents.

July 7, 1998, Texas: Jasper Edward Baccus, a South Dallas community leader, is sentenced to 21 months in jail for his role in passing bogus checks created by the Republic of Texas. Baccus had tried to deposit more than $500,000 in bogus instruments into a Dallas bank in 1996. Seven other defendants had been convicted in the case.

July 8, 1998, Montana: Four leaders of the Montana Freeman are convicted of engaging in a conspiracy against banks, but the jury deadlocks on charges against eight other defendants. LeRoy Schweitzer, Daniel Petersen, Dale Jacobi and Russell Landers are convicted of a conspiracy to defraud four banks. Judge John Coughenour declares a mistrial on all unresolved counts; a new trial will be held.

July 10, 1998, California: Ku Klux Klan member John Varela is arrested on felony assault charges after confronting and grabbing a witness at a preliminary hearing for a hate crime trial.

July 10, 1998, California: Forty federal agents raid the home and office of tax protester Lynne Meredith in Sunset Beach as part of a criminal investigation into whether she failed to pay income taxes and urged others to do the same. Meredith has written several tax protest books and markets abusive trusts designed to help people avoid income taxes. One newspaper has estimated sales of her tax protest books and trusts have brought in at least six million dollars—"tax free."

July 13, 1998, South Carolina: Klansman Joshua England pleads guilty to four felony counts related to a 1996 incident in which he shot three African-Americans. He faces the possibility of life in prison, but the plea bargain will probably insure a sentence of only about twenty-five years. England was a member of the South Carolina Christian Knights of the KKK.

July 13, California: Two members of a tiny religious-survivalist group known as the Gatekeepers allegedly rob a San Diego jewelry store and shoot at police while fleeing. The members, Blaine Applin and Christopher Turgeon, are suspected of having engaged in a number of armed robberies as well as the murder of a backsliding follower. Group members, heavily armed, believe that a soon-to-be-established world government will bring on the apocalypse, which members would have to survive.

July 14, 1998, Florida: Ft. Lauderdale authorities arrest World Church of the Creator leader Guy Lombardi on charges of retaliating against a witness. Lombardi, southeast regional director for the white supremacist group, allegedly tried to intimidate a witness in a hate crime case involving two World Church members accused of beating two men in August 1997.

July 15, 1998, Ohio: Aryan Nations member John A. Luther is sentenced to six years in prison after pleading no contest to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, possession of criminal tools, complicity to aggravated robbery and theft. Luther, as well as his brother William Luther and friend Scott Smith (both held on similar charges; a third brother, Richard Jr., is still a fugitive), stole nearly $15,000 from a bank in Loraine, Ohio, in June 1997, then fled to the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. In FBI tapes, the brothers are heard discussing a plan to rob banks and use the money to rob armories and blow up federal buildings.

July 20, 1998, Michigan: Michigan militia leader and shortwave radio broadcaster Mark Koernke is arrested when a helicopter searching for drugs noticed in a rural area witnessed Koernke acting suspiciously. Koernke had been a fugitive since May, when he failed to show up for his trial on charges of assaulting a process server. Ironically, after his arrest, prosecutors will decide there is not enough evidence to try him on those charges, but he will still face charges relating to his flight.

July 21, 1998, Washington: White supremacist Kirby Kehoe (see above) is sentenced to slightly more than four years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing illegal weapons (including hand grenades). He still faces other, more serious charges in Arkansas relating to his alleged attempt to start a white revolution.

July 21, 1998, Texas: Plastic surgeon Jacques Jaikaran is convicted on charges of failing to file federal income tax returns for the years 1992-1994. He faces up to three years in prison and $75,000 in fines. Jaikaran was a "financial adviser" for the Republic of Texas and a member of a group called the Constitution Coalition of Texas.

July 23, 1998, Florida: Accountant Juan Rodriguez is convicted in Orlando on 23 counts of mail and wire fraud, money-laundering and interstate theft, related to his attempts to pass bogus checks obtained from the Montana Freemen. He faces up to six years in prison.

July 24, 1998, Idaho: A federal jury finds Douglas J. FitzGerald of Eagle, Idaho, guilty on fifteen felony counts of mail fraud and filing false claims for tax refunds. FitzGerald attempted to pay the Internal Revenue Service $400,000 worth of bogus checks obtained from the Montana Freemen, making the checks out for double the amount owed and demanding a refund of the overpayment.

July 25, 1998, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Police trooper George Emigh is in a tree conducting surveillance on a "White Pride Day" gathering when ten armed members of the Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan surround the tree, point weapons at him and threaten to kill him, even after the ununiformed officer identifies himself as a policeman. Three Klansmen, Michael Abraham, Ronald Bedics and Adam Moyer, are arrested on charges of aggravated and simple assault, recklessly endangering another person’s life and making terroristic threats.

July 27, 1998, Illinois: Coles County authorities tell a press conference that anti-government activist Lynn Burch will be arraigned on charges of solicitation of murder for trying to hire a hit man to kill judges. According to court records, in July Burch offered a used car to an undercover officer posing as a hitman as payment for killing two police officers, two judges, the county prosecutor and two private citizens. Most of the potential targets had been involved in separate criminal incidents involving her son and her common-law husband, or a foreclosure on her farm.

July 27, 1998, North Carolina: Four members of a Ku Klux Klan group in eastern North Carolina receive jail sentences of from three to six months in jail for assaulting Calvin Cothern with a deadly weapon. Cothern had wanted to leave their group. The members are Donald Druck, Allison Johnson, Robert Johnson and Tony Vance; all pled no contest.

July 28, 1998, Connecticut: Linda Weigand becomes a fugitive when a judge orders her arrest after her failure to show up for a civil court hearing involving her failure to pay fines, alimony or child support. Weigand, a follower of "patriot" leader Bo Gritz, received national attention when she allegedly convinced Gritz and his son to kidnap her two children from her ex-husband, whom she alleged conducted Satanic abuse practices. The Gritzes were arrested for attempted kidnapping and are scheduled for trial.

 

AUGUST

August 1, 1998, Georgia: The U.S. Justice Department files suit in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia, seeking to stop prison inmates in a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, from filing bogus liens against government officials. Bill Barker, Andrei Royster, Jaromie John, Hugh Mingo, Charles Niles, Charlie Janes Sr., and Allen Knowland are named in the suit.

August 2, 1998, Indiana: A bomb-laden pickup truck is driven into the basement of a courthouse in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, but luckily does not explode. Authorities do not know who committed the bombing attempt, but suspect terrorism as a possible motive.

August 3, 1998, California: Three members of a white supremacist skinhead group, Vincent Putzier and two minors, are arrested on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and violation of civil rights for a stabbing and beating incident involving three victims, a Hispanic man and two white friends. Four more suspects are sought.

August 5, 1998, South Carolina: Horace King, Grand Dragon of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina apologizes for the 1995 burning of a black church (for which four Klansmen were jailed). The church had sued and in July won a judgement against King (for inciting his Klansmen to burn the church) of $15 million, and against Klan groups for an additional $23 million. King’s apology is an attempt to convince the congregation not to collect damages against him.

August 6, 1998, Virginia: Tax protester Roger C. Menner receives a 15 month federal prison term for his conviction on five counts of failing to file a federal tax return. Menner, defending himself, had contended that federal tax laws are a fraud and federal courts have no criminal jurisdiction.

August 10, 1998, Florida: Joseph Dayton Self pleads no contest to eight traffic-related charges and is sentenced to sixty days in prison (which he had already served, having been jailed without bail for failing to appear in court). Self is a "freeman" who believes that he has been a "prisoner of war."

August 10, 1998, Pennsylvania, Florida: Pennsylvania Attorney General D. Michael Fisher asks a state judge to impose a permanent injunction against Florida-based Greater Ministries International, barring promotion of its "Faith Promises" program to Pennsylvanians, which is believed to be a pyramid scheme. Greater Ministries is under federal investigation in Florida.

August 10, 1998, Ohio: Ohio authorities ask the state to issue a cease-and-desist order against Greater Ministries International (see above) to stop its Faith Promises program, which it believes is an unlicensed security.

August 11, 1998, Kentucky: White supremacist Daniel Koplitz pleads guilty to a single weapons charge (involving pipe bomb components) as part of a plea bargain in which he would avoid trial on charges of sending threats through the mail, conspiracy to violate people’s civil rights and possession of an unregistered destructive device. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He and three other men were members of a white supremacist group called the White Aryan Legion, which shot at buildings and sent threatening letters to mixed-race couples.

August 11, 1998, New Jersey: Dennis Lurty, leader of a group called the White Victory Skinheads, is arrested for possessing rifles and a handgun while on parole from a 1991 assault charge.

August 12, 1998, Texas: Richardson physician and tax protester Pedro Rivera is convicted on five felony counts of tax evasion that involved $1.44 million in unreported income. Rivera claimed that his "Bible studies" and review of federal law made him question the validity of the income tax; he used a series of offshore trusts to hide nearly $600,000. Rivera was also a member of the Republic of Texas.

August 13, 1998, Colorado: San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters receives a fax with a death threat to "put a small caliber round" in his head "as soon as possible." The fax is signed by "Unkicked Ass, L. E. Interdiction Militia."

August 17, 1998, Montana: The federal government drops charges against Montana Freeman Ralph Clark so that state charges can be filed against him. Clark is charged with one count of criminal syndicalism and two counts of issuing bad checks.

August 17, 1998, Kentucky: Brothers Jon and James Taylor plead guilty in a plea bargain to one count of discrimination in housing (Jon Taylor) and one count of making a threatening communication (James Taylor). The two were members of a white supremacist group called the White Aryan Legion (see above), which threatened various mixed-race couples earlier in the year.

August 18, 1998, Kansas: Two hundred people are evacuated from a state office building in Wichita after a substance claimed to be anthrax (it was not) is discovered in an envelope in a stairwell and on elevator control panels. An accompanying note claims the substance is anthrax. Later, a Wichita television station will receive a letter claiming the substance had been left by a group calling itself "The Brothers for the Freedom of Americans and the Christian Identity Movement."

August 18, 1998, Arizona: Carl Edward Johnson is arrested by the IRS on charges of threatening federal officials. Johnson was discovered to be the "brains" behind an Internet webpage soliciting the assassination of four federal officials. Johnson is also wanted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in connection with an attempted courthouse bombing. He holds dual citizenship. The webpage was an adaptation of a concept proposed by antigovernment extremist James Dalton Bell, in which people would be rewarded for killing public officials. Johnson claims that he is mentally ill.

August 20, 1998, California: White supremacists Ryan Marsau and Ryan Mozer are arrested in Arizona in connection with a vicious hate crime attack on a Hispanic man (see above). They join Vincent Putzier, Keith Leombruno, John Dick and two minors awaiting trial for the stabbing and beating attack.

August 21, 1998, Minnesota, Iowa: Tax protester Marvin Pullman receives a sentence of nearly six years on charges of conspiring to defraud the government, possessing counterfeit securities and obstructing the IRS. Pullman was one of four codefendants who had created fraudulent trusts, illegally moved money offshore and attempted to pass bogus Montana Freeman checks.

August 21, 1998, Connecticut: Linda Weigand (see above) fails to show up for another hearing and is ordered to be arrested when she is found. She faces possible felony charges of failure to appear as well.

August 24, 1998, West Virginia: A Kanawha County tax protester, Todd McCauley Stetson, receives a sentence of six months home confinement and five years probation for refusing to pay $34,000 in taxes. As part of the plea bargain Stetson apologizes to the court and the Internal Revenue Service.

August 25, 1998, Washington: Gregory L. McCrea is indicted on a federal firearms charge—being a felon in possession of a handgun—but is expected eventually to be charged with possessing machine guns, hand grenades, pipe bombs and nails dipped in a deadly chemical. State prosecutors, in a separate criminal case, seek to convict him on child rape charges. Other federal agencies are considering domestic terrorism and bomb-making charges (as well as child pornography charges). Investigators who searched his house and property in May found one of the largest seizures of illegal firearms and pipe bombs ever made in the region, taking days to haul away and dispose. Investigators say that he is a militia sympathizer and survivalist, but not a member of any particular group. The state charges alone can send him to jail for up to 598 months.

August 25, 1998, Texas: Richard George Kieninger is sentenced to 21 months in prison for conspiracy, bank fraud and mail fraud for his activities with the Republic of Texas.

August 27, 1998, California: Montana Freeman supporter John P. McGuire is charged with four new federal weapons charges. He already faces a retrial on four other criminal counts.

August 31, 1998, Illinois: Wallace Weicherding is convicted in federal court in East St. Louis of conspiracy to possess and make illegal firearms and destructive devices, as well as for possession of a machine gun. Weicherding is one of five members of a white supremacist group called the "New Order" arrested in connection with planned assassinations, bombings, and armed robberies. Four other men have pled guilty.

 

SEPTEMBER

September 1, 1998, Texas: Republic of Texas member Erwin Leo Brown is sentenced to 21 months in prison for mail fraud in connection with his efforts to distribute nearly two billion dollars worth of bogus Republic of Texas cashier’s checks.

September 3, 1998, California: Yuba City militia figure Vernon Weckner is convicted on several counts related to storing 550 pounds of stolen explosives in his motorhome. Weckner had earlier agreed to a plea bargain for probation but backed out when he discovered it would not let him keep firearms. He now faces up to six years in prison.

September 8, 1998, Colorado, Oklahoma: The Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the conviction and death sentence of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, convicted in 1997 on eleven counts related to the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.

September 9, 1998, North Carolina: E. H. Hennis, a 75-year-old former Klan leader and resident of Guilford County, is jailed on contempt of court charges relating to his refusal to move 20 abandoned mobile homes from his property in a zoning dispute. Hennis had been creating a considerable stir in the county for his threatening words in connection with the confrontation. Hennis has three tons of ammonium nitrate on his farm and has made threats about making fertilizer bombs. The contempt charge comes from Hennis’ refusal to show up for a court hearing regarding the dispute. Law enforcement officials later execute a search warrant on the property to find the ammonium nitrate, originally stored in a shed, but discover it has been been hidden or removed by friends of Hennis. They do discover dummy booby traps and effigies of his "enemies."

September 10, 1998, Louisiana: Two white men are arrested for attacking a group of black men stranded by a disabled car, then pouring gasoline on the car with a three-year old child inside. The two men, brothers Frank and Patrick Palermo, are charged with hate crimes, resisting arrest and simple battery, as well as other charges. The brothers allegedly told the men that a new civil war was coming and that they would do a lot worse than Timothy McVeigh, who only blew up one building.

September 10, 1998, California: Convicted "freeman" Elizabeth Broderick files a civil rights lawsuit against the federal government seeking $300 million in damages for wrongful convictions on 26 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. The $300 million figure is not quite half the $800 worth of bogus checks the group she led distributed before her arrest.

September 11, 1998, Illinois: Dennis McGiffen, head of the white supremacist group "The New Order" receives a seven year sentence on federal firearms charges in connection with his group’s plans to commit assassinations, bombings and robberies (see above).

September 14, 1998, Ohio: Three Ohioans are convicted of conspiracy to frustrate the collection of income taxes. Daniel and Donna Stewart and Joe Sabino created various illegal trusts to hide income from the Stewarts’ transmission business. The Stewarts, former members of the tax protest group The Pilot Connection Society, are also found guilty of tax evasion.

September 19, 1998, Wisconsin: Donald Treloar, a Wisconsin militia and common law court leader, is fined $500 and given five years probation, as well as 180 days home confinement, for impersonating a federal marshal while serving papers from a common law court while purporting to be a "Special united [sic] States Marshall" in 1997.

September 21, 1998, California: Governor Pete Wilson signs into law a bill making it a misdemeanor to put unauthorized advertising or literature into newspapers. This law is an attempt to combat the tactic used by white supremacist groups of hiding hate literature in free distribution newspapers. Similar tactics are being used with increasing frequency nationwide. Later, Governor Wilson will sign into law two bills designed to deal with the problem of "paper terrorism." One law creates a simple way to remove bogus liens against public officers and employees, as well as a civil penalty of $5,000 against people who knowingly file such encumbrances. A second law prohibits a person from filing a lawsuit, lien or other encumbrance against the private property of a public officer or employee with the intent to harass, influence or hinder the officer. The victim may sue the culprit for up to $5,000. Neither law aids private citizens or companies afflicted with such bogus liens.

September 22, 1998, California: Thomas Allen Preston, having pled no contest to committing a hate crime, battery on a police officer, possession of a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon, is sentenced to nearly three years in jail in connection with his attack on a black Los Angeles police officer and two other men. Preston is believed to be a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.

September 24, 1998, Illinois: Glenn Lowtharp receives a 20 month sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess and make automatic weapons and destructive devices as part of his activities with a white supremacist group called the New Order (see above).

September 29, 1998, South Carolina: Klan member Joshua Grant England receives a maximum sentence of 26 years for shooting three black teenagers outside a nightclub in 1996 following a Klan rally.

September 29, 1998, Texas: Militia extremist Brad Glover pleads guilty to possessing an illegal silencer in connection with an alleged attempt by a group led by Glover to attack Ft. Hood, Texas. Glover recently received a three-year sentence in Kansas on related weapons charges.

September 30, 1998, Oklahoma: Hoppy Heidelberg, a Blanchard horse breeder and conspiracy theorist who in 1996 was removed from the federal grand jury which indicted Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, on grounds that he spoke to a writer for a right-wing magazine about the case, announces he will create his own "citizen’s grand jury" to meet and investigate the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office warns Heidelberg to be aware of a new law making it a felony to act falsely in asserting authority of law. "Citizen’s grand juries" were sometimes formed by Posse Comitatus groups back in the 1980s.

 

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