Last Updated August 19, 1999
Calendar of Conspiracy, Volume 3, Number 2: A Chronology of Anti-Government Extremist Criminal Activity, April to June 1999
A Militia Watchdog Special Report
5, 1999, Wyoming: Russell Henderson
pleads guilty to felony murder and kidnapping for the slaying of Matthew Shepard
in October 1998. Shepard, a gay
college student, was abducted, brutally beaten, and left exposed tied to a fence
to die. Aaron McKinney, also
charged in the offense, will be tried in August on first-degree murder,
kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges, and could face the death penalty if
convicted. Henderson faces up to
two life sentences because of the plea.
8, 1999, California: A
southern California jury delivers two acquittals and one guilty verdict in a
robbery case involving three members of the racist group known as the Nazi
Lowriders. James Mowatt is
convicted on three counts of first degree residential robbery, but the jury
deadlocks on co-defendant Amber Marie Perez and acquits Dennis James Hawkins.
Mowatt faces up to forty years in prison.
The Nazi Lowriders are a white supremacist prison gang that has spread
beyond the walls of prisons.
8, 1999, Ohio: Southern Ohio
resident Thomas Jeffrey Frisby is charged with promoting an illegal scheme to
evade income taxes. Frisby, a
member of the tax protest organization The Pilot Connection Society, also
started his own group, The Freedom Connection, to promote the concept of “untaxing.”
8, 1999, Illinois: In an effort to
crack down on tax evaders, Illinois officials announce indictments against
seventeen people from four counties. Among
those charged are several tax protesters, including Darrel Mathis, who refused
to file income tax returns from 1994 to 1997.
11, 1999, Colorado: An unknown
arsonist sets fire to the Internal Revenue Service office in Colorado Springs.
Two years ago, another IRS building in Colorado Springs caused more than
$1 million in damage. That arson
was never solved.
12, 1999, Wisconsin: Minister
Wilfred F. Benzing and his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Jessica, are arrested on
charges related to an altercation with a Washington County sheriff’s deputy.
Wilfred Benzing faces a felony charge of recklessly endangering
another’s safety, related to his allegedly taking a swing at the deputy’s
head with a golf club, as well as misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer and
intentionally attempting to cause bodily harm to an officer.
Sharon and Jessica were arrested for resisting or obstructing an officer. A teenage son, Nathaniel Benzing, is wanted on the same
charge. The Benzings are tax
protesters and constitutionalists who have filed many bogus documents.
The incident occurred when Jessica refused to pull over when an officer
caught her speeding and instead drove to her home.
An altercation followed when the office learned that the elder Benzing
was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant and tried to arrest him.
13, 1999, Texas: Two North Carolina
Klansmen are indicted by a grand jury in Texas on two charges of attempted
capital murder. Jimmy Ray Shelton
and Eddie Melvin Bradley allegedly tried to kill a sheriff’s deputy and a
patrolman during a chase in March.
14, 1999, Illinois: Eric D. Hanson
is convicted of a felony hate crime, misdemeanor assault, and disorderly
conduct, for following a mixed-race couple, using racial epithets against them,
and threatening to strike the African-American man. The admitted white separatist, who claimed he was only being
“politically incorrect,” faces up to three years in prison.
14, Ohio, Kentucky: White
supremacist Kale Kelly is arrested in southwest Ohio and charged with illegal
possession of firearms as a convicted felon.
The Aryan Nations member is suspected of having been involved in some
sort of bomb plot, causing federal authorities to search the property of a Klan
leader in Kentucky and to subpoena numerous members to appear before a grand
15, 1999, Michigan: Militia member
Matthew Vinuya pleads guilty to federal counts following his arrest in March on
federal conspiracy, weapons and accessory after-the-fact charges related to his
role in a plot by members of a militia group to threaten to assault and murder
federal officers and workers. Seeking
a plea agreement, Vinuya admits he removed and safeguarded weapons, drugs and
other items belong to another militia member after that member was arrested.
Vinuya faces up to five years in prison, but the government is
recommending a reduced sentence for his cooperation.
17, 1999, Illinois: Eric Hanson,
only days after being convicted of a hate crime (see above), is arrested and
charged with illegal possession of weapons.
Police also find ammunition, food rations and sleeping bags, leading them
to suspect he was planning to skip town before his sentence.
20, 1999, Florida: Dentist Milton
McIlwain and his officer manager Wanza Webb are indicted by a federal grand jury
on nine counts of tax evasion. The
Orlando-area residents transferred more than $1 million into bogus trust
accounts to conceal income and peppered the Internal Revenue Service with
letters containing frivolous tax protest arguments. Webb is the mother of former Longwood police officer Gene
Webb, sentenced to two years in prison in 1996 on tax charges.
Web claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” with no ties to the
22, 1999, Indiana, California: Jerry
Thorstad, head of a group called Constitutional Colleagues in Granite, is
arrested by Evansville police for extradition to California, where he is charged
with defrauding customers. Supporters
of Thorstad claim that he merely runs a multilevel marketing company
distributing educational materials about the U.S. Constitution, but authorities
claim that he is operating an illegal pyramid scheme.
23, 1999, North Carolina: Three tax
protesters are found guilty of conspiracy and procuring the preparation of false
income tax returns by a federal jury in Raleigh.
The trio, Jessie L. Jackson, David M. Crudup, and James Sturdavant, Jr.,
were members of an extremist group known as “We the People.”
They held meetings beginning in late 1994 in which they told attendees
that the income tax was voluntary and that We the People could prepare their
federal and state tax returns. The
men actually falsified the returns and charged 10 percent fees on refunds. Each could received up to 35 years in prison and a $1.25
23, 1999, Florida: A grand jury in
Clearwater, Florida, indicts self-described neo-Nazi skinhead Jessy Joe Roten on
charges of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree
murder, enhanced as a hate crime, for a shooting spree with an assault rifle in
an alley behind his house which resulted in the death of a six-year-old mixed
race girl and the wounding of her two sisters, who were shot when the bullets
penetrated the walls of a home along the alley.
23, 1999, Tennessee: A man, not
identified by authorities, tries to file bogus liens against area judges in
Hamilton County, Tennessee (where Chattanooga is located), including U.S.
District Judge R. Allan Edgar and Chattanooga City Court Judge Walter Williams.
When Register of Deeds employees refuse to file the liens, the man begins
to make threats to “get even with everybody”
and to “take matters into his own hands.” Workers abandon their desks
and huddle in a backroom until a corrections officer, responding to a call for
help, removes the man from the building. Amazingly,
the man was not detained.
26, 1999, Mississippi: William J.
Kelty of Clinton, Mississippi, is convicted of filing false claims and
obstructing the Internal Revenue Service for trying to use bogus Montana Freemen
checks to pay his taxes. Kelty owed
11 years and more than $200,000 worth of taxes, but sent the IRS a bogus check
for $565,494 and asked for a refund of $360,470.
26, 1999, Utah: Tax protester
Robert D. Daugherty pleads guilty in a plea bargain to one court of willful
evasion of income tax and failing to file a tax return (he had originally been
charged with ten counts and faced up to fifteen years in prison), gaining a
sentence of two months in jail and three years of probation.
27, 1999, Washington: Constitutionalist
Randall L. Glessner, a former certified public accountant, is arrested on 27
counts related to falsifying more than 150 tax returns for others.
Glessner, a “sovereign citizen,” claims not to be “Mr. Glessner”
when brought into court. He faces
up to six years in prison and $105,000 in fines.
30, 1999, California, Oklahoma, Florida: A
federal jury finds two California businessmen, Ronald Sparks and Owen Stephenson
guilty of more than twenty counts each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and
money laundering. The two had set
up a bogus bank allegedly chartered by the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma which they
claimed could shield transactions from federal authorities.
They defrauded investors of nearly $8 million.
The banks former president, Brian Condon of Orlando, Florida, who had
pled guilty the previous year, testified against them.
According to prosecutors, Sparks had contacts with the Montana Freemen
and had designed the bank to appeal to right-wing extremists opposed to the
Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service.
30, 1999, Massachusetts: John
Sweeney receives a contempt conviction for his role in a nine-month standoff
during which he refused to leave his east-Massachusetts mansion, repossessed by
the FDIC following a default on a $1.6 million bank loan. Militia members patrolled the grounds until federal marshals
finally arrested Sweeney in February 1998.
4, 1999, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho, Ohio: White supremacists Chevie Kehoe and Daniel Lee are convicted
on racketeering, conspiracy and three murder charges, relating to their attempts
to overthrow the federal government and set up an Aryan People’s Republic in
the Pacific Northwest. Their crimes
included a bombing in Spokane, Washington, the murder of an Arkansas gun dealer,
his wife, and their eight-year-old daughter in 1996, and two murders in Idaho.
Kehoe’s brother, Cheyne Kehoe, was also involved, but turned himself in
and cooperated with authorities. He
is serving a lengthy prison sentence.
6, 1999, New York, Vermont: Anti-abortion
activist James Kopp, recently from St. Albans, Vermont, but currently a fugitive
from justice, is charged second-degree murder in the assassination of abortion
doctor Barnett Slepian in October 1998.
7, 1999, Ohio: Aryan Nations member
Kale Kelly pleads guilty to illegal possessions of firearms as a convicted
felon, but backs out of a written plea agreement to cooperate with federal
authorities investigating a possible bomb or assassination plot.
He faces up to ten years in prison.
10, 1999, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho, Ohio:
Chevie Kehoe (see above) is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
11, 1999, Connecticut: Seven people
are arrested (and one more will be arrested on May 12) at the headquarters of a
small group calling itself “the Brotherhood of White Supremacists.”
Suspects allegedly robbed two people in their apartment and are charged
with various offenses related to the robbery.
Strangely, one of the suspects is African-American.
13, 1999, Colorado: Following a
high-speed chase, police arrest anti-government extremist Jack Modig after
authorities spotted him near the Denver-area Colorado Islamic Center.
Modig had a numerous weapons and bomb-making materials in the car,
leading police to suspect he was planning to destroy the Center.
Modig is an active member of the common law court movement in Colorado.
He is charged with possession of explosive devices, carrying concealed
weapons, eluding a police vehicle and three counts of attempted vehicular
13, 1999, Ohio: Common law court
activist Larry Roten is found guilty of resisting arrest by a Lebanon Municipal
Court. He was arrested following a
three-month search for him, as he also faces trial on charges of intimidation
and using “sham legal process” for threatening to file a bogus lien against
a county prosecutor. It took three
officers to arrest Roten.
14, 1999, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho, Ohio:
Daniel Lee (see above), is sentenced to death by a Little Rock, Arkansas,
15, 1999, Alaska: Palmer, Alaska,
police officer James Rowland is killed during a shootout following a traffic
stop. The suspect in the killing,
Kim Cook, is allegedly an anti-government extremist. He is subsequently charged with first degree murder.
15, 1999, Utah: Eric Millerberg is
arrested for pistol-whipping and threatening to kill a Hispanic family in the
Salt Lake City, Utah, area. Millerberg,
a known racist with a criminal record, assaulted a man and woman and slapped
their three-year-old daughter. A
second participant has not been charged, while a third is still being sought.
17, 1999, Florida: Francis J.
Gilroy is arrested in West Palm Beach following a traffic stop confrontation.
Gilroy was pulled over for failing to signal a turn, but refused to
provide identification or cooperate with deputies.
Police then seized assault rifles and a hoard of ammunition in his van.
Gilroy was associated with various groups, including the “Florida
Patriots” and the “North Carolina Patriots,” as well as various militia
20, 1999, Michigan: North American
Militia member Kenneth Carter is sentenced to five years in prison for his role
in a bombing plot. Carter had pled
guilty in 1998 to conspiracy charged. His
sentence is considered lenient because he cooperated with the government
following his arrest.
20, 1999, Illinois: White
supremacist Eric Hanson (see above) receives a sentence of one year for his role
in a hate crime against a biracial couple.
Hanson was allegedly the member of a racist group called the Christian
20, 1999, Ohio: Aryan Nations
“captain” David Dean Ellis is arrested in Dayton following a report of a man
assaulting a woman in the street. Ellis
is the most recent of a number of arrests of Aryan Nations members in Ohio on
24, 1999, Idaho: Former Aryan
Nations security chief Edward Warfield receives a two to five year sentence for
aiding and abetting aggravated assault, to which he pled guilty as part of a
plea bargain. Warfield and two
others, still fugitives, had assaulted two people whose car had stopped in front
of the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
25, 1999, Michigan: North American
Militia leader Brad Metcalf receives a forty year prison sentence, without the
possibility of parole, for his role in a plot to blow up government buildings
and to threaten to assault and murder federal officers.
26, 1999, North Dakota: Avone Kukla,
of Dickinson, North Dakota, pleads guilty to one count of tax evasion for
failing to pay more than $57,000 in taxes during the 1990s. Instead, Kukla sent the Internal Revenue Service a bogus
check from the Montana Freemen for $536,000, along with a demand for a refund of
the excess. The plea was part of a
bargain with prosecutors.
26, 1999, Ohio: Two white
supremacists are sentenced to lengthy prison terms for conspiring to rob banks
in Lorain and Summit counties. William
Luther receives a 34 year sentence while Scott Smith receives a term of 13
years. Two of Luther’s brothers
had previously been sentenced.
26, 1999, Wisconsin: James
Langenbach is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and
causing great bodily harm to a child as a hate crime for his allegedly driving
his car up onto a sidewalk in order to run over two African-American youths
riding bicycles. When
Langenbach’s car was searched following the May 16 incident, writings were
found in his car that included the statement, “I’m here to get this
white/black race B.S. started and it looks like I did.”
Eight years ago Langenbach was convicted of a similar crime for twice
ramming a van with African-American passengers.
27, 1999, Pennsylvania: Donald
Penrod, of Boswell, Pennsylvania, is convicted of simple assault and making
terroristic threats, as is Ronald Bedics, while Michael Abraham is convicted of
simple assault and a fourth person, Adam Moyer, acquitted of all counts.
The four individuals were Klansmen attending a White Pride Day picnic on
July 25, 1998, when they spotted a state trooper in a tree watching the rally
and pointed a gun at him, threatening to kill him.
28, 1999, Missouri: Common law
court movement Clifford Keith Hobbs of Auxvasse, Missouri, is sentenced to seven
years in prison after pleading guilty to interfering with a judicial officer by
filing a bogus lien against a judge. He
had earlier received the same sentence as the result of an earlier trial, but
the Missouri Court of Appeals granted Hobbs, and other defendants, a retrial.
Hobbs will not serve any of the sentence because he has been in jail long
enough to gain parole.
1, 1999, Ohio: Edgar Bradley and
his two sons, Edgar Bradley II and Roy C. Bradley, receive prison sentences for
conspiring to frustrate federal tax collectors and failing to file tax returns.
The elder Bradley receives a five year prison sentence and a fine of
$150,000, while Edgar II receives 57 months in prison and a fine of $145,000.
Roy receives 46 months in prison and a fine of $118,500. They must also pay $635,925 in unpaid taxes.
The three tax protesters acted as their own attorneys and declared that
the income tax was unconstitutional and the court illegitimate.
The trial took a month to conduct, but jurors convicted them in ninety
3, 1999, Oklahoma: White
supremacist Michael Lee Wiggins is arrested for selling a handgun to another
felon cooperating with police. Wiggins
was buying and selling to many weapons that he had a second gun vault in another
house to store all of them.
3, 1999, Ohio: Tax protesters
Daniel K. and Donna G. Stewart are sentenced to eighteen months in prison for
tax conspiracy and evasion, as well as fines of over $40,000 each.
A third defendant, Joe Sabino, who helped the Stewarts evade taxes with a
bogus trust, was given five years’ probation.
The Stewarts were members of the Pilot Connection Society, at that time
(the early 1990s), the largest tax protest organization in the country.
8, 1999, California: Eric Lance
Dillard, a member of the white supremacist Nazi Low Riders gang, is sentenced to
three years in prison for his role in attacks on black men in the Antelope
Valley in 1996. A second defendant
had earlier received a 57-month sentence.
9, 1999, Florida: Jonathan Strawder
is sentenced to five years in prison for his role, as head of the Orlando-area
Sovereign Ministries International, in a $12.6 million illegal investment scam.
However, the sentence may be reduced in the future because Strawder has
been cooperating with federal authorities, including in their investigation of
Tampa-based Greater Ministries International, which Sovereign Ministries copied
(Strawder’s father and uncle are members).
Strawder will later get an identical sentence from state charges and will
serve the two sentences concurrently.
9, 1999, Ohio, Bangkok (Thailand): Police
in Bangkok, Thailand, arrest Robert Alan Smith, a white supremacist wanted for a
murder of an African-American in Cleveland, Ohio.
Also known as Matthew Stedman, Smith reportedly shot his victim, then
burnt him in a metal barrel. He
will be extradited to the United States.
9, 1999, North Dakota: Lynda Kukla,
a tax protester and associate of the Montana Freemen, is sentenced to a year of
probation on a tax evasion charge. Her
husband (see above) had previously pled guilty.
10, 1999, Michigan: Randy Graham is
sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for his role in plots to kill government
officials and commit terrorist acts. Graham, a member of the western Michigan North American
Militia, receives the longest sentence of all four militia members arrested.
10, 1999, Alabama: A plumber from
Foley, Alabama, is arrested following his purchase of grenades from an
undercover ATF agent. Chris Scott
Gilliam, charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, told the agent he
wanted to send mail bombs to Washington, D.C.
Gilliam is a member of the neo-Nazi group The National Alliance.
11, 1999, Missouri: Nine common law
court activists in Missouri are convicted of tampering with a judicial official.
Jury members recommend four-year sentences for eight defendants, and a
seven-year sentence for leader Dennis Logan (sentencing will not be until August
6). The defendants had previously
been convicted in 1997, but an appeals court overturned the decision.
In the interim, many defendants had pled guilty.
11, 1999, Pennsylvania: Klan member
Ronald Bedics is sentenced to 14 to 30 months in state prison for pointing a gun
at a state trooper during a Ku Klux Klan picnic in Somerset County.
12, 1999, Alabama: Five Ku Klux
Klan members are arrested in Fort Payne, Alabama on firearms charges following a
Klan rally at the De Kalb County Courthouse.
Eighty-five demonstrators show up for the annual rally, then prepare to
leave. A police officer, however,
spots a pistol in one of the vehicles (three are eventually found).
None of the five occupants of the vehicle claim any of the weapons, so
police arrest all five.
14, 1999, Texas: State officials
seize a dry cleaning business owned by Republic of Texas member John E. Parsons
for nonpayment of almost $127,000 of back taxes.
Parsons claims that the government of Texas is illegitimate and he does
not have to pay federal or state taxes.
14, 1999, Wisconsin: Arrest
warrants are issued for Wilfred Benzing, his wife, and two of his children,
after their failure to appear in court on several charges (see above), including
an alleged attack on a deputy sheriff. Instead
of the Benzings appearing in court, an “ex-friend” of the family appeared
and attempted to issue sovereign citizen inspired “jurisdictional
challenges” to the court.
14, 1999, California: Nicholas
Victor Fleming, Jr., receives a fifteen-month sentence for having tried to
intimidate a U.S. district judge by placing a $10 million bogus lien on the
15, 1999, Kansas: Jesse Maley of
Sylvia, Kansas, receives a six-month house arrest and three years of probation
for his role, along with three other men, in defacing a synagogue in Wichita
with anti-Semitic statements in 1998. Maley,
who pled guilty to conspiracy to oppress, threaten and intimidate Jewish
citizens, faced a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
Maley had been a member of the Salt City Skinheads.
16, 1999, Florida: Greater
Ministries International leader Patrick Henry Talbert receives a sentence of ten
years in prison on state racketeering, conspiracy and securities fraud charges
relating to bilking investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars using his
“DTA Trust” in 1994. Talbert
and six other Greater Ministries officials still face a federal trial in August
on conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering charges, as Greater Ministries
itself allegedly operated a giant pyramid scheme. A second defendant received a suspended sentence.
16, 1999, Arizona: Joseph Downen is
found guilty of conspiracy against a person’s housing rights for an incident
in 1998 when Downen and three other men beat a Mexican-American man with a
baseball bat in order to get him to move out of their neighborhood.
He faces up to ten years in prison.
18, 1999, California: Three
Sacramento-area synagogues are nearly simultaneously set on fire, causing
moderate damage. A leaflet left
behind blames the “International Jewsmedia” for the conflict in Kosovo.
Police do not know the individuals responsible for the crimes.
21, 1999, Pennsylvania: Horace E.
Groff pleads guilty to fraud in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for trying to send
bogus Montana Freemen checks to the Internal Revenue Service.
Groff sent the IRS a Freeman check for $4.4 million, asking for a $1.8
million refund after his $2.6 million tax bill was paid.
24, 1999, Alabama: Steven Eric
Mullins, attempting to save himself from the electric chair, pleads guilty to
capital murder for his slaying of a gay man in early 1999. Mullins and a second defendant, Charles M. Butler, abducted
victim Billy Jack Gaither of Sylacauga, Alabama, beat him to death with an ax
handle, then burned Gaither’s body on a pile of old tires.
Despite the plea, a sentence of death is still possible.
24, 1999, South Carolina: Two
former Ku Klux Klan members, John England and Clayton Spires, Jr., are sentenced
to twenty-five years in prison for state charges related to their shooting of
three black teenagers outside a nightclub in 1996. However, the two white supremacists, already serving 25-year
federal sentences for the incident, will serve the state sentences concurrently.
29, 1999, Ohio: An anti-gay
protester, Charles Spingola, is arrested and charged with riot, disorderly
conduct and two counts of criminal damaging during a gay pride parade in
Columbus, Ohio. A second man,
Donald L. Richardson, is charged with misconduct at an emergency and disorderly
conduct after interfering with the arrest of Spingola.
Spingola had cut down a rainbow flag raised (with permission) on the
Statehouse grounds, then another protester burned it. Many of the protesters were members of the High Street
Baptist Church in Worthington, Ohio, an organization associated with the extreme
right. Charles Mainous, the pastor,
threatened to burn any future flags as well.
29, 1999, Illinois: William G.
Gustafson, of Palatine, Illinois, is charged with resisting a police officer,
disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property and assault following an
incident in which he damaged a Hispanic neighbor’s fence and threatened to
kill her (he has already been charged with a hate crime for the June 14
incident). The self-proclaimed
white supremacist swung part of the fence at police officers who arrived at the
scene. Officers had to use pepper
spray to subdue him. Gustafson,
already on probation for aggravated assault, has been under medication and so
consequently is ordered taken to a hospital to determine if he was sane at the
time of the offense and mentally fit to stand trial.