Last Updated February 12, 1999
Calendar of Conspiracy, Volume 2, Number 4: A Chronology of Anti-Government Extremist Criminal Activity, October to December 1998
A Militia Watchdog Special Report
The following is a chronology of some of the events surrounding anti-government criminal activity in the United States during the fourth quarter of the year 1998. It illustrates both the scope of such activityfrom large-scale acts of terrorism to local acts of harassment and intimidationand its geographic extentfrom major cities Buffalo and Orlando to remote rural areas in Texas and Utah. 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-four states, but activity occurs in every state in the country.
October 1, Texas: White supremacists Shawn Allen Berry, William King and Russell Brewer are re-indicted by authorities for their role in the dragging death of disabled James Byrd near Jasper, Texas, in June 1998. Authorities now say they will seek the death penalty for all three.
October 2, 1998, Florida: Four members of the white supremacist group known as the World Church of the Creator are indicted on hate-crime conspiracy charges for robbing a video store in Hollywood, Florida, because they believed all media outlets are controlled by Jews. Indicted are Donald Hansard, Raymond Leone, Angela King and Dawn Witherspoon. Hansard had earlier been charged in a beating incident at a heavy-metal concert when a father and son refused to accept a white supremacist flier. The indictment suggests that the members were inspired by the novel "The Turner Diaries" and that the accused discussed sending some of the money from the holdup to the Church of the Creators headquarters in Illinois.
October 2, 1998, Illinois, Ohio: Daniel Rick of Leesburg, Ohio, is sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for selling a machine gun to a white supremacist group called the New Order, a group that plotted to commit bombings, bank robberies and terrorist acts to start a racial war.
October 2, 1998, North Carolina: Former Klan member E. H. Hennis is arrested for bringing a fake bomb to a county commission meeting and threatening commissioners that they could lose body parts in car explosions. Hennis is charged with causing a bomb hoax and a misdemeanor charge of communicating threats. Hennis, a retired demolitions engineer, had been waging a months-long battle with local authorities over zoning disputes, and had made references to blowing up buildings with the three tons of ammonium nitrate stored at his farm near Greensboro.
October 5, 1998, Idaho. An associate of the Montana Freeman, Douglas J. FitzGerald, is sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $30,000 in fines for his conviction on fifteen counts of filing false claims for tax refunds and mail fraud. FitzGerald used bogus money orders to pay the Internal Revenue Service and various banks, making them out for double the amount owed and demanding a refund of the "overpayment."
October 9, 1998, California: Francis A. Marafino, a tax protester and self-declared "sovereign citizen," is sentenced to two years in prison following his conviction on six tax-related charges. Marafino, who defended himself at his trial, told the jury that he was not subject to federal tax laws. Marafino is also fined $24,000.
October 13, 1998, California: Vernon Weckner, a Yuba City, California, militia figure, is sentenced to four years in prison on explosives-related charges and eight more months for having made fake vehicle license tags. Weckner is the last of four men to be sentenced in the case, in which Weckner was arrested with over 500 pounds of explosives, and he receives the longest prison term. Five months earlier, Weckner turned down a plea bargain that would have allowed him to walk free, because the probation conditions would have disallowed him from owning a gun.
October 14, 1998, North Carolina, Georgia: Federal authorities file a criminal complaint against fugitive Eric Rudolph, suspected of having bombed a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic in January 1998, accusing him of also having committed the 1996 Olympic Centennial Park bombing and the 1997 bombings of an abortion clinic and a lesbian bar, all in Atlanta, Georgia. Rudolph is believed to be hiding in his home state of North Carolina.
October 15, 1998, South Carolina: Joe Charles Dalrymple of Fair Play, South Carolina, pleads guilty to intimidating IRS agents by threats of force for a letter he sent in which he claimed to be looking forward "to blasting you away with all my militia friends in the very near future. Were going to make Timothy McVeigh look like a firecracker warm-up compared to the sheer hell were going to unleash on you." Dalrymple receives two years probation, 40 hours of community service, and a $2,000 fine.
October 19, 1998, California: Southern California chiropractor James V. Dentice and his wife Angela, followers of tax protester Irwin Schiff, are convicted on charges related to filing false tax returns asking for $270,000 in refunds. The couple faces up to three years in prison.
October 20, 1998, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania state attorney general files suit against Alpha, a Philadelphia-based white supremacist group that had published death threats against state government employees on its web page. The state seeks an injunction barring the group from making any such threats.
October 22, 1998, Ohio: White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin receives two life sentences for his 1980 sniper murders of two black teenagers. Franklin is already on death row in Missouri for his other killings; from 1977 to 1980 he traveled around the country shooting blacks, Jews, and interracial couples, trying to start a race war.
October 23, 1998, New York: Buffalo pediatrician and gynecologist Barnett Slepian is murdered by an anti-abortion extremist in a sniper shooting that may be linked to four other area attacks. Four of the five victims have been Jewish. Within two weeks, James C. Kopp, an anti-abortion activist, will be named a material witness and sought in connection with the murder.
October 29, 1998, Texas: Two members of the extremist group known as the Republic of Texas are convicted on two counts of sending threatening e-mail to government agencies, but acquitted on numerous other charges, all related to an alleged plot to assassinate government officials, including the President, with cactus needles tipped with a biological agent. Jack Grebe and Johnie Wise receive the convictions, while a third defendant, Oliver Emigh, is acquitted on all eight charges against him. The case against the trio seemed weak after no agents were ever found and a government informant seemed to be active in some of the groups activities. Grebe and Wise still face potentially serious prison terms, however.
October 29, 1998, Texas: Michael Dorsett, leader of a small militia group which plotted to attack Fort Hood, Texas, on July 4, 1997, is sentenced to five years in prison for a weapons charge stemming from the plot.
October 29, 1998, Florida: White supremacist Brian Donald Pickett pleads guilty to charges that he conspired to rob two Orlando banks and set off pipe bombs as diversions. Pickett, as well as two others, were implicated by the fourth member of their group, Todd Vanbiber, who had been previously arrested and convicted. Pickett and Vanbiber were members of the Neo-Nazi group The National Alliance; according to Vanbiber, they had previously committed three bank robberies in Tampa and Connecticut, then donated some of their takings to National Alliance chief William Pierce, author of the notorious novel, "The Turner Diaries."
October 29, 1998, Connecticut: Police in Woodbridge, Connecticut, arrest David Connolly after a four-hour standoff at his home following a report from neighbors that he was firing a gun into the nearby woods. Connally, a convicted felon on federal weapons charges, is found to have a cache of weapons as well as thousands of dollars marked with anti-government messages.
October 30, 1998, Ohio: James Morris, of Kenwood, Ohio, pleads guilty to tax evasion and obstructing tax collections in a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. Morris, a tax protester and member of the Pilot Connection Society, showed others how to "untax" themselves and sold bogus trust packages designed to help people hide income and assets.
November 2, 1998, Utah, Washington: Scott Joseph Merrill, of Spokane, Washington, is charged with murdering a county road worker, Charles Watterson, near Green River, Utah. Merrill, a mailman and self-described "constitutionalist" who told deputies that he did not believe in their "form of government," allegedly fired at least 25 shots at Watterson from a hidden position in a cluster of rocks.
November 2, 1998, Florida, Pennsylvania: A Pennsylvania judge bars an organization suspected of running an illegal pyramid scheme, Greater Ministries International, of Tampa, Florida, from engaging in any business in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Florida bank regulators accuse two Greater Ministries representatives of lying in an attempt to take over a Florida bank.
November 4, 1998, Kansas: Ronald Griesacker, a peripatetic anti-government figure who had associated with extremist groups ranging from the Montana Freemen to the Republic of Texas to the Washitaw Nation, among others, is convicted on nine counts of bank fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. Griesacker, who defended himself during the trial, albeit not very skillfully, faces up to a theoretical 270 years in prison. Griesacker, a former Kansas Department of Corrections worker, is one of a number of anti-government extremists to hail from the small town of St. Marys, Kansas.
November 4, 1998, Ohio: Tax protester and fugitive Salvatore Spine, Jr., is captured at his mother-in-laws house in Prairie Township, near Columbus, Ohio. Spine, among other incidents in the 1990s, was charged on April 11, 1995, with conspiring to hide $1.5 million of associate Lawrence Gandees income. Within days of the indictment, Spine disappeared, eluding law enforcement officers for more than three years.
November 5, 1998, Massachusetts: Abraham Forish of Easthampton, Massachusetts, is arrested after police respond to a report of a man firing automatic guns in his yard. Authorities discover a stockpile of weapons and ammunition, including a pipe bomb and a machine gun, and arrest him on bomb possession charges. Based on comments Forish made about Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, police conclude that he belongs to one or another extremist movements.
November 6, 1998, Montana: Three members of the Montana Freemen are sentenced to prison, including a stiff eleven-year term for Russell Dean Landers, one of the leaders of the Freemen during their standoff with federal authorities in 1996. Landers had been convicted on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, threatening a federal judge and being a fugitive in possession of a firearm. Dana Dudley, Landers one-time common law wife, who pled guilty in a plea bargain, receives nearly two years in prison (time she has already served, though she faces another sentence in Colorado). Emmett Clark, in ill health, is sentenced to time already served, plus thee years under supervision.
November 6, 1998, Texas, Connecticut: Police in Texas arrest Sheldon Robinson in connection with his role in an alleged attempted kidnapping by "patriot" movement leader James "Bo" Gritz and his son, Jim Gritz. The three allegedly attempted to kidnap the two sons of associate Linda Wiegand to help her regain custody of them from their father in Suffield, Connecticut, in September 1996.
November 6, 1998, California: A federal grand jury issues an indictment for Richard Finley of Sacramento on charges of using bogus checks to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. Finley, an associate of the Montana Freemen who even appeared as a defense witness in one of their trials, is accused, along with another man, Frank Stamos, of using "comptrollers warrants" obtained from the Freemen to pay nearly $200,000 in tax debt.
November 7, 1998, Arizona: Mary Elizabeth Schipke is arrested following a nearly 25 hour standoff at her house trailer started when she pulled a gun on deputy sheriffs and a child protective services worker responding to a letter she sent them. Schipke, a figure associated with the extreme right in Tucson, has also been active in the movement which opposes child protective services. During the standoff, Arizona militia members circled the area in marked vehicles and the sheriffs department received numerous phone calls threatening violence if deputies did not leave the area.
November 10, 1998, Utah: After deciding to cooperate and plead guilty, tax protester Mark Bundy is sentenced to ten days in jail and 72 months probation on state felony tax charges. This brings to ten the number of tax protesters arrested and charged in state courts in Utah in 1998 as a result of that states crackdown on tax protesters. Perhaps as a result, tax collections are up 8.2% over the previous year.
November 12, 1998, Connecticut: An arrest warrant is signed for Linda Wiegand (see above entry), charging her with conspiring to kidnap her children from her ex-husband. However, the warrant cannot be served because Wiegand is not in Connecticut and has failed to show up for recent court dates.
November 13, 1998, Illinois: A federal appeals court upholds the conviction of Shirley Holland, wife of deceased militia leader Joe Holland, who died in prison in Montana while serving a sentence for criminal syndicalism. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds her conviction and 27-month sentence, ruling that Joe Hollands death did not vitiate Shirleys guilt, even though she had played a minor role in the conspiracy (which involved tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes).
November 13, 1998, North Carolina: An unknown shooter fires multiple shots at the North Carolina headquarters for law enforcement officials searching for fugitive suspected bomber Eric Rudolph. The shots wound one agent slightly.
November 13, 1998, Montana: Ebert Stanton, a member of the Montana Freemen who willingly cooperated with authorities, received a sentence of time served and three years of supervised release for his bank fraud conviction.
November 13, 1998, Florida: A federal jury convicts Palm Beach resident Kenneth Thiefault and his wife Mardel Barber on various conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and other charges, related to a conspiracy to distribute illegal ozone generators, a phony medical device. Thiefault, a sovereign citizen and tax protester, sold at least 8,000 ozone machines, which are banned in the United States. Thiefault faces up to 32 years in prison; Barber up to five years.
November 16, 1998, Washington: A husband and wife "patriot" couple are convicted on four counts of filing false federal income tax returns. Bonnie Rosco was a former Grant County tax assessor who, along with her husband Russell, claimed that their income was "non-taxable compensation."
November 17, 1998, Colorado: A twenty-two year old woman, Lisl Auman, receives a life sentence for her conviction on charges that included first degree murder in connection with the killing of Denver police office Bruce VanderJagt in 1997. White supremacist Matthaeus Jaehnig killed VanderJagt, then killed himself with the police officers gun. Auman was found to have helped Jaehnig flee from police and handed him a weapon he used in the shooting. According to people who know her, Auman herself is not a white supremacist.
November 17, 1998, Wisconsin: A SWAT team is forced to help the Waukesha County, Wisconsin, Sheriffs Department remove junk and debris from the property of an anti-government activist who had threatened violence against anybody who tried to forcibly clean up his property. The extremist, Daniel Stiglitz, had threatened that authorities would "see the gunfight at the OK Corral" if they enforced court orders that his 2-acre lot be cleaned to enforce town ordinances. Stiglitz is a "sovereign citizen" who does not recognize the authority of the government over him.
November 18, 1998, Montana: A retrial of several Montana Freemen members ends in convictions for most of the defendants. Of ten defendants, nine receive convictions on at least one charge, including leaders Leroy Schweitzer, Rodney Skurdal and Daniel Petersen, Jr. Minnesotan Cornelius Veldhuizen, charged with armed robbery of an NBC television news crew, is the only defendant to be acquitted. Others convicted include Dale Jacobi, Cherlyn Petersen, Richard Clark, Agnes Stanton and John P. McGuire.
November 18, 1998, Michigan: Michigan militia leader Bradford Metcalf is convicted on eight counts related to a plot to kill federal officials and blow up federal buildings. Metcalf and two other members of the North American Militia had plotted to destroy a federal building in Battle Creek, Michigan, an IRS office, utility transmitters and a television station. Metcalf defended himself in court, causing the judge to remark to the defendant that "you cut your own throat." Metcalf faces up to 30 years in prison.
November 20, 1998, Florida: A Florida jury finds white supremacist Christopher Norris guilty on numerous charges relating to a plot to rob banks with pipe bombs for diversions. Norris is convicted of conspiring to rob a bank, making pipe bombs, possessing pipe bombs and conspiring to use and carry firearms during a planned robbery, charges that could send him to prison for life (see earlier entry for more details).
November 20, 1998, California: Two members of Greater Ministries International, a Florida-based organization suspected of running a pyramid scheme, are arrested in Bakersfield, California, on felony charges of selling unregistered securities related to the activities of Greater Ministries.
November 23, 1998, Illinois: Ralph Bock, member of a white supremacist group called The New Order which plotted a series of bombings and assassinations, receives a two-year sentence on weapons charges for his minor role in the plot.
November 23, 1998, Washington, Missouri: Former Aryan Nations Chief of Security Edward Jesse Warfield is charged with aggravated battery (later reduced to aggravated assault) and aiding and abetting aggravated assault, both with weapons enhancements, a charge that could potentially mean forty years in prison. Warfield allegedly assaulted a woman who had stopped her car outside the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, to pick up a wallet her son had dropped out of the car. Warfield fled but was arrested in Missouri. Warfield is the fourth Aryan Nations security chief to be charged with serious crimes.
November 26, 1998, Montana: Anti-government activist Pete Miller gets a break by being sentenced to twenty years in prisontime suspended. Miller had pled guilty to helping militia leader Calvin Greenup flee Montana to avoid arrest in 1995, as well as other related crimes. Miller had been a fugitive for two years before being arrested in 1997, but both defense attorneys and prosecutors told the judge that they felt Miller was "on the right track" with his life and asked the judge not to fine or sentence Miller. Judge Jeffrey Langton agreed.
November 26, 1998, Utah: Tax protester Mark Bundy pleads guilty to two felony counts of failure to file taxes as part of a bargain in which he receives probation rather than jail time. Bundys sentence is part of an on-going crackdown on tax protesters by Utah authorities.
December 1, 1998, Idaho: Federal and local police begin an investigation into a cross burning and fire bombing at the home of Lori Graves, an activist who protested against an Aryan Nations march in Coeur dAlene, Idaho, earlier in the year. Anyone convicted of the crime could face life in prison.
December 3, 1998, Florida: A member of a white supremacist group that beat a Jewish owner of a video store pleads guilty to conspiracy and robbery charges. Angela King could face up to forty years in prison. King, along with Raymond Leone, Dawn Witherspoon and Donald Hansard, patterned their attack after ones described in the novel, "The Turner Diaries." Hansard and Witherspoon have already pled guilty. The four are connected with other white supremacists convicted of or awaiting trial on a number of other charges.
December 4, 1998, Montana: Tax protester Henry L. Matthies of Laurel, Montana, is sentenced to one year and a day in jail for his conviction on three counts of failing to file tax returns. Matthies claimed that he did not have to pay income taxes and that the federal government was "evil, wicked, immoral and highly dishonest My religion defines the federal government as a false God."
December 4, 1998, Illinois: White supremacist and former prison guard Wallace Weicherding, member of a group called the New Order which planned and plotted for a race war, receives nearly six years in prison on weapons charges relating to his role in the conspiracy.
December 7, 1998, Ohio: White supremacist and convicted bank robber Peter Langan, a leader of the Aryan Republican Army, files a ten billion dollar lawsuit against law enforcement officers who arrested him in following a shootout in 1996. Legal experts are dubious about his chances of success.
December 9, 1998, Ohio: After pleading guilty to a series of bank robbery charges, Richard James Luther, Jr. receives a sentence of sixteen years in prison. Luther and his brother John robbed two Lorain County banks in 1997, then fled to the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. His brother pled guilty in July and was sentenced to six years. A third brother, William Luther, was sentenced to seven years in April after pleading guilty to robbing a bank in Summit County.
December 11, 1998, Kentucky: A white supremacist who pled guilty to a firearms possession charge is sentenced to nearly six years in prison. Daniel Koplitz, a member of the White Aryan Legion, whose members, including Koplitz, were charged with sending threatening letters to mixed-race couples and firing shots at buildings, thus avoided trial on more serious charges.
December 16, 1998, Florida: Accountant Juan Rodriguez pays for having circulated bogus checks created by the Montana Freemen with a more than four year prison term. Convicted on 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and interstate theft, all related to the $300,000 worth of fake checks he had tried to pass, Rodriguez, unlike many other Freemen-related defendants, is penitent in court.
December 16, 1998, Washington: Sean Patterson, an escapee from the Geiger Corrections Facility suspected of ties to the Aryan Nations, is captured after a lengthy foot chase. Patterson had escaped on November 10, but was spotted while attempting to buy drugmaking chemicals.
December 17, 1998, California: Authorities arresting Marc MacCleod, a felon from Sacramento wanted for a parole violation, discover two assault weapons and three pipe bombs in his Jeep. MacCleod is a member of a white supremacist gang known as the "Sacramento Skins."
December 18, 1998, Ohio: Peter Langan, a leader of the Aryan Republican Army, is sentenced to life in prison for his role in over twenty bank robberies committed by his group during the 1990s.
December 24, 1998, California: Militia activist Don Rudolph is arrested by ATF agents and charged with possession of a machine gun, part of a considerable stash of weapons found at his home. He is ordered held without bail because of concerns about his "emotional stability." In the past, Rudolph had pled guilt to threatening a state official.
December 30, 1998, Tennessee: Carletta Sims of Rogersville, Tennessee, files a criminal trespassing complaint against June Griffin of Dayton, who with another woman came to Sims house after Sims had been involved in a legal effort to have a Ten Commandments plaque removed from the local courthouse. In a telephone message to Sims, Griffin threatened "armed resistance" and identified herself as part of the "Kitchen Militia," a loose-knit organization of women who identify with the anti-government "patriot" movement.
December 30, 1998, Oklahoma: The Oklahoma County Grand Jury, investigating the Oklahoma City federal building bombing of April 19, 1995, for signs of a wider conspiracy than that involving McVeigh and Nichols, releases its report. Disappointing conspiracy buffs and anti-government activists, the report finds little evidence of a broader conspiracy.