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Last Updated September 4, 2000

The Militia Watchdog 

 

 

 

 

Calendar of Conspiracy, Volume 4, Number 2:  A Chronology of Anti-Government Extremist Criminal Activity, April to June 2000

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 second quarter of the year 2000.  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 New York and Seattle to remote rural areas in Wyoming and North Carolina.  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, unless committed by members of extremist groups, although occasionally extraordinary hate crimes are reported, because of the blurred line between hate crimes and other extremist criminal activity.  This report includes events from thirty-three states, but activity occurs in every state in the country.

 

 

APRIL

 

April 1, 2000, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee:  Gregory Owen Reid dies in a traffic accident near Crossville, Tennessee, ending a half-year manhunt.  Reid, a native of Blytheville, Arkansas, had been in Missouri recruiting members for a Ku Klux Klan group when he deliberately ran into an 11-year old black girl with his vehicle (she suffered a broken leg).  Reid then fled, and federal and local authorities filed a variety of charges.  After Reid’s death, authorities recover a loaded AK-47 assault rifle from his pickup truck.

 

April 4, 2000, Idaho:  Koreen Morgan of Rexburg, Idaho, receives a sentence of nearly four years in prison following a conviction on four counts of filing false claims for tax refunds against the United States.  Morgan sent four bogus money orders totaling $6.9 million obtained from the Montana Freemen to the Internal Revenue service in order to pay off her tax debt, as well as those of her parents and brothers.  Her brothers Don and Brad Chapple earlier received sentences after pleading guilty.

 

April 4, 2000, California:  Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams are charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, destruction of religious property and use of fire to commit a felony in connection with the firebombing of an abortion clinic and arsons at three Sacramento synagogues in the summer of 1999.  The white supremacist brothers had already been charged with killing a gay couple.

 

April 5, 2000, Oklahoma:  John Lee Haney receives a sentence of 33 months in federal prison for unlawfully possessing machine guns that he had built in order to “test the constitutionality of gun laws.”  At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors bring forward testimony accusing him of having participated in a plot to bomb the Oklahoma City office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.  During his trial, prosecutors had also alleged that he had made threats against federal agents and federal judges.  Haney denied all such charges.

 

April 6, 2000, South Carolina:  Jimmy Kris Crawford of Bishopville, South Carolina, is charged with criminal conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly masterminding attacks on black churches, including a firebombing of an African Methodist Episcopal church.  According to authorities, Crawford provided encouragement and materials for the attacks, which were conducted by teenagers, including Bryan Alan Carraway, 18, and a 15-year old minor.  Allegedly Crawford was trying to start a Ku Klux Klan group to be called the South Carolina Ghost Riders.

 

April 7, 2000, Wisconsin:  Sharon Benzing and her adult children Jessica and Nathaniel are sentenced to 30 days in jail (10 only for the children) and substantial fines following a conviction relating to a physical confrontation on the part of the three and father Wilfred Benzing with two sheriff’s deputies in April 1999.  Wilfred Benzing, who became a fugitive after failing to appear for a court hearing, had been found guilty of second degree reckless endangerment and battery to an office, both felonies, as well as a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer.  The other three were found guilty of misdemeanor obstruction.

 

April 11, 2000, California:  Anti-government activist Alan Russell Neuman is convicted on three counts relating to threats made on the Internet against a Ventura County police officer.  After being stopped by the officer, Neuman posted a “Wanted: Dead or Alive” sign on his Website with the officer’s name and physical description.  He was charged with making terrorist threats, solicitation of murder and solicitation of kidnapping, although the last two charges were dismissed by the judge.  Neuman is also found guilty on several accounts related to child pornography found on his computer when authorities seized it.

 

April 13, 2000, Idaho:  Aryan Nations security guard John Steven Yeager pleads guilty to firing shots at a woman and her son whose car had stopped outside the Aryan Nations compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho.  A second guard, Edward Jesse Warfield, earlier pled guilty and was sentenced to from two to five years in prison.

 

April 17, 2000, California:  Steven E. Alexander, a Glendale-area skinhead, is sentenced to two years in federal prison for attacking a multiracial family.  Alexander and his brother Philip confronted a white woman, her black husband, and their son on two separate occasions, in one incident smashing the windshield of their car.

 

April 18, 2000, Michigan:  Curt Clark, a teenage member of a white supremacist group known as the Iron Cross in Flint, Michigan, pleads guilty in a plea bargain to one charge of bombmaking.  He and several high school classmates built a bomb with instructions downloaded from the Internet and placed it in their school in August 1999, but the bomb failed to detonate.  Also charged are John N. Dubuis and Jason Robert Lee Montney.  As part of the agreement, Clark will testify against them.

 

April 21, 2000, California:  In Orange County, skinhead Kevin Dale receives a sentence of 37 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to civil rights offenses involving an attack on an ethnic (east) Indian, Mark Sanjay David, outside a punk rock concert in 1995.  More than a dozen people attacked David, although except for one person acquitted in state court, no other attackers were charged.  Dale earlier received prison time for an attack on two Middle Eastern women in 1998.

 

April 25, 2000, Connecticut:  James R. Gritz is granted accelerated rehabilitation, a form of special probation, following his arrest for an alleged attempted kidnapping.  Gritz and his father, James “Bo” Gritz, were arrested in September 1996 for attempting to kidnap the sons of supporter Linda Weigand, loser of a vicious custody battle.  However, the elder Gritz and friend Sheldon Robinson were acquitted after a tortuous court battle, while Linda Weigand became a fugitive.  Under the rehabilitation program, the younger Gritz’s record will be cleared if he meets the requirements set by the judge, including testifying against Linda Weigand should she be found by authorities.

 

April 26, 2000, Georgia:  In Eatonton, Georgia, Thomas Chism, an agent for the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, an unusual group whose members claim to be the true native Americans, is convicted of knowingly passing a forged document to county authorities.  Chism receives a sentence of several months in jail and a fine of $1,000.

 

April 26, 2000, Pennsylvania:  Survivalist and anti-government activist Peter Kazlouski kills himself after setting his apartment on fire hours before he was scheduled to appear at an eviction hearing.  Authorities find an arsenal of rifles, handguns, and small homemade bombs in the apartment.

 

April 27, 2000, Pennsylvania:  Richard Scott Baumhammers, a Pittsburgh-area attorney, embarks upon a shooting rampage targeting racial and ethnic minorities that leaves five dead and one critically injured.  He is arrested and arraigned on multiple counts of homicide, ethnic intimidation, and other charges.  Baumhammers had earlier attempted to form a fringe political party called the Free Market Party to “work in the interest of the American majority,” designed to protect the interests of whites.  Baumhammers has a history of mental illness.

 

April 28, 2000, California:  Three militia members are indicted by a federal grand jury for plotting to blow up a propane storage site in Sacramento in 1999.  Indicted are Donald Rudolph, former head of the San Joaquin County Militia, and Kevin Ray Patterson and Charles Dennis Kiles.  Patterson and Kiles were arrested last December, while Rudolph was already in prison at that time for illegal possession of a machine gun.  They are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to use and possess a destructive device and various firearms violations.

 

April 28, 2000, Florida:  A federal bankruptcy judge in Tampa orders that control of a dozen properties worth about $1 million be turned over to a court-appointed trustee.  The properties, controlled by Greater Ministries International, a group accused of masterminding a massive pyramid scheme that brought in nearly $500 million, include the homes of most of the leaders, including Gerald Payne, Jack Hudson, Patrick Henry Talbert, and Patsy Tharpe.  Trustee Kevin O’Halloran states that he will probably remove the residents and sell the homes in an attempt to regain funds with which to reimburse some of the many victims of Greater Ministries.  A federal trial is scheduled to start for seven defendants on July 31, 2000.

 

April 28, 2000, California:  Beverlee Sue Merriman pleads guilty in Los Angeles to two counts of conspiracy for helping her son, skinhead Justin Merriman, intimidate witnesses for a future murder trial against him.  The younger Merriman faces 30 criminal charges, as well as the death penalty.

 

April 28, 2000, Arizona:  White supremacist gang member Michael Spears receives a year in jail and five years’ probation for his participation in a brutal beating in May 1999.  Spears, a member of the Gilbert-based Devil Dogs, is the last of seven gang members sentenced for two different assaults.  As part of a plea bargain, other assault charges were dismissed.

 

 

MAY

 

May 1, 2000, California:  Richard Bierd of Vista, California, pleads guilty to assault and hate crime charges following his arrest for chasing down two black men riding bicycles and attempting to stab them.  Bierd, and codefendant Robert Coats, are white power skinheads.  Coats, with 17 felony convictions to his name, could face up to life in prison if convicted.  Bierd faces up to eight years.

 

May 2, 2000, California:  Victor Quinton Podbreger receives an almost nine-year sentence in state prison for having thrown a Molotov cocktail through the window of a San Jose-area judge whom he incorrectly thought was Jewish.  Podbreger, a white power skinhead, was captured on videotape along with his juvenile accomplices just prior to the attack at a skinhead party, in which they discussed various ideas for attacking Jews.  Podbreger pled guilty in January.

 

May 5, 2000, Virginia:  White supremacist Paul Warner Powell is convicted of capital murder following his attack on a teenage girl who had a black boyfriend and her younger sister in Manassas, Virginia.  He stabbed the older girl through the heart twice, killing her, and brutally raped and stabbed the younger sister, who nevertheless survived. 

 

May 11, 2000, Pennsylvania:  Roy Frankhouser, head of the United Klans of America, settles a charge that he violated the Fair Housing Act by harassing and intimidating Bonnie Jouhari and her daughter by publicly apologizing to them, paying part of his income, and agreeing to perform 1,000 hours of community service.  Jouhari was engaged with helping people file housing discrimination complaints, and was harassed by Frankhouser and members of another group, Alpha HQ, causing her to flee to Washington state.

 

May 12, 2000, Alabama:  The Alabama Supreme Court upholds the capital murder conviction and death sentence for George Sibley, Jr., convicted along with his common-law wife, Lyda Lyon Block, of killing an Opelika police officer in 1993 while they were fleeing from authorities in Florida.   Neither Sibley nor Block, both part of the sovereign citizen movement, recognize the authority of the courts over them.

 

ca  May12, 2000, Washington, Arizona:  The Securities and Exchange Commission sues to shut down Vista International, Oakleaf International and Rosewood International, three companies run by John Zidar, Elizabeth Anne Phillips, Shawn Talbot Rice, and four other associates, on suspicion that they were running a $50 million pyramid scheme known as a “prime bank” scheme because it purports to sell fictitious investments known as “prime bank instruments.”  A criminal investigation is purportedly ongoing.

 

May 13, 2000, Colorado:  White supremacist and convicted murderer Nathan Thill pleads no contest to assaulting a deputy sheriff and possessing illegal contraband while awaiting his trial.  He is sentenced to a total of eight years for the two charges, while prosecutors agree to drop four other counts.

 

May 15, 2000, California:  White supremacist Robert Coats is acquitted on hate crime charges but convicted of a knife assault for his role in an attack on two black men in 1999 (see above).  According to the foreman, the jury decided that Coats’ accomplice, Richard Bierd, began the fight for racial reasons, but that Coats would have jumped in regardless of the victims’ race.  Because of Coats’ many previous convictions and California’s “three strikes” law, he faces 65 years to life for the assault.

 

May 17, 2000, Idaho:  Former Aryan Nations security guard John Steven Yeager receives a 30-month sentence for his attack on a mother and her son in front of the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake (see above).  Yeager was a fugitive for more than a year after the shooting incident before he was caught in September 1999.

 

May 17, 2000, New York:  Esperance, New York, chiropractor J. Michael McMahon is arrested following his failure to appear in court to answer six counts of tax evasion and failing to file tax returns.  He faces up to 18 years in prison.

 

May 17, 2000, Wisconsin:  Sovereign citizen Ralph Wirkus is convicted of 22 felony counts of simulating legal process for delivering bogus criminal complaints that named a variety of judges, prosecutors and others as defendants.  An associate, John Dolk, remains to be tried, while a second associate, Wilfred Benzing, remains at large.

 

May 18, 2000, Missouri, North Dakota:  Christian Identity minister Gordon Winrod is arrested and charged with abducting six of his grandchildren from North Dakota and hiding them at his farm in Missouri.  Also arrested are Winrod’s son, Steven Winrod, and his daughter, Carolyn Winrod.  The children were allegedly kidnapped in 1994 and 1995 following custody battles in which the former sons-in-law of the Winrods were awarded custody.

 

May 18, 2000, Utah:  Tony Alexander Hamilton receives a five years to life sentence following a conviction on five charges related to trying to kill a Beaver County sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation in September 1999.  Hamilton at the time was the leader of an offshoot religious group known as the Immanuel Foundation, which claimed it did not have to pay property taxes and as a result lost its property.  The deputy was one of a group of law enforcement officers sent to Hamilton’s 640-acre ranch to evict him.

 

ca May 20, 2000, Missouri:  Richard Kline, a “patriot” running as a Reform Party candidate for governor of Missouri, is arrested in St. Charles on suspicion of assaulting a county assessor.  When the assessor asked Kline to stop distributing campaign literature inside the assessor’s office (campaign literature distribution within public buildings is regulated in that county), Klein reportedly hit the assessor.

 

May 22, 2000, Montana:  White supremacist and convicted murderer Joseph Aceto kidnaps a former girlfriend, Eileen Holmquist, at gunpoint, from the art studio where she worked at Collumbia Falls, then abandoned her about fifteen hours later, shaken but unharmed.  Aceto is charged with two counts of attempted murder (he fired at Holmquit and the studio’s owner with a gun) and with aggravated kidnapping.  Detectives searching his home find a variety of white supremacist materials, including some from Aryan Nations.  He will finally surrender to authorities on May 25.

 

May 25, 2000, Montana:  Former Cascade, Montana, mayor Tom Klock receives a light sentence of eight months of house arrest following his conviction for using bogus Montana Freeman checks.  He is also fined $20,000 and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service, but avoids prison time because of letters from community members to the judge asking for leniency.

 

May 26, 2000, California:  Anti-government activist Alan Russell Neuman is sentenced to three years’ probation following his conviction on three felony charges related to posting an on-line threat against a Ventura County sheriff’s deputy (see above).  He is also sentenced to one-year in jail on child pornography charges, which he served while awaiting trial.

 

May 26, 2000, Tennessee:  Militia activist Joe Burton is arraigned in Clinton, Tennessee, on charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon, resisting arrest, and assault. 

 

May 28, 2000, New Hampshire:  An arsonist sets fire to an abortion clinic in Concord, New Hampshire.  The clinic had once previously been the victim of arson in 1989 following a Supreme Court ruling that angered anti-abortion activists.

 

 

JUNE

 

June 1, 2000, Florida:  Tax protester and former fireman from Hallandale Beach David G. Tracy is convicted on one charge of tax evasion (escaping conviction on two other charges; the jury deliberated for six days).  Tracy claimed the federal government had no right to tax his income and refused to file tax returns for 1994-1996.

 

June 3, 2000, Michigan:  Tax protester Michael Modena is arrested near Lansing, Michigan, after being on the run from federal authorities for over a year.  He is charged with one count of conspiring to commit tax evasion.  Modena allegedly aided five brothers in evading paying taxes on more than $3 million in earnings (the brothers were convicted in September 1999) by helping them set up various abusive trusts.

 

Ca. June 6, 2000, Ohio:  Cleveland-area “sovereign citizens” Joan S. Bowman and Richard A. Lewis are charged with one count of intimidation each in connection with filing criminal charges against several Cuyahoga County judges who played a role in a previous criminal case against the couple (for attempting to purchase eight Cadillacs with a bogus sight draft as part of a “redemption” scheme). 

 

June 7, 2000, West Virginia:  Brothers Everett and Bobby Wayne Hager are found guilty of a variety of drug and weapons charges against them relating to a September 1999 incident in which they fired on state troopers in order to protect their marijuana crop in Spurlockville.  State police had been investigating the brothers, who considered themselves militia leaders, for threatening to blow up public buildings and shoot law enforcement officers.

 

June 8, 2000, Arizona:  State and federal authorities recover most of a thousand pounds of explosives that had been stolen from a mine in Arizona in December 1999.  Four men, Billy Joe Clem and Brandon Evans of Paulden, Arizona, and Larz Dane Youngren and Aric Balistreri of Prescott, Arizona are charged with the theft.  According to authorities, at least one of the four, Larz Youngren, is a white supremacist with Odinist beliefs.

 

June 9, 2000, North Carolina:  Jacob Wayne Stull receives a four and a half year sentence after pleading guilty to charges relating to a 1998 incident in which he fired at least ten shots into the mobile home of a black family in a white neighborhood.  Following the shooting, police found bomb-making materials, automatic weapons and Ku Klux Klan paraphernalia in his home.

 

June 12, 2000, Indiana:  Jason Powell of Elkhart, Indiana, pleads guilty to killing Sasezley Richardson in November 1999, thus avoiding a possible death sentence for the racially motivated killing.  Powell also agrees to testify against co-defendant Alex Witmer.  The two teenagers allegedly cruised an Elkhart neighborhood looking for a minority to shoot.  Witmer has claimed to police to be a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.

 

June 12, 2000, Kentucky:  The Heart of Fire Christian Church in Fern Creek, Kentucky, is destroyed by fire following a series of harassing telephone calls apparently inspired by the mostly white church’s recent stands against the Ku Klux Klan and racial hatred.

 

June 15, 2000, Maryland:  A Chestertown jury convicts Daniel R. Starkey of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder relating to a December 1999 shotgun murder of an elderly black woman.  Starkey and his brother David W. Starkey, Jr., are reported to have killed the woman as she and two friends were returning home from a Christmas shopping trip.  Prosecutors allege that David W. Starkey is a committed white supremacist who read Klan literature and had numerous racist tattoos, but decline to press the issue in court after a judge throws out hate crime charges against Daniel Starkey (for which no such evidence apparently existed).  David Starkey will be convicted several days later on similar charges.

 

June 15, 2000, Connecticut:  Ku Klux Klan member Scott Palmer pleads guilty in state court to intimidation based on bigotry or bias and receives a five year prison sentence, suspended after two months.  However, he faces more than a year in federal prison as well, as his action violated his federal probation for a previous conviction.  Palmer, a former leader of the Unified Ku Klux Klan in Meriden, Connecticut, had threatened to run over a black employee of a nursing home in December 1999.  He was one of five Klan members previously arrested in 1994 following an investigation of illegal weapons and firearms violations.

 

June 15, 2000, Illinois:  Dan Shoemaker, a school janitor and leader of the Western Illinois Militia, is arrested for aggravated intimidation and threatening of public officials after Shoemaker announced plans to march in two Illinois towns with an assault rifle and to shoot any police officer who attempted to disarm him. 

 

June 16, 2000, Indiana, Michigan:  Federal and local authorities in Fort Wayne, Indiana, arrest Michigan militia figure Paul Darland, a fugitive since 1994, on several charges stemming from the alleged murder of another fugitive militia member, William Gleason, that year.

 

June 16, 2000, Arizona:  “Constitutionalist” Robert Wilson Stewart is arrested on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of firearms after federal agents searching his Mesa home find 38 weapons, including several machine guns.  Stewart had previously been convicted in 1993 on charges of possessing machine guns.  Stewart is well known in the “patriot” movement for selling gun kits that can be altered to produce .50 caliber weapons.

 

June 21, 2000, West Virginia:  Three Lincoln County militia activists are convicted of assaulting a witness who had testified against two militia leaders in their trial on drug and weapons charges.  Convicted on two counts each of intimidating a witness are Margaret Owen, Earl David Cochran, and Alfred Curtis Watts.  Owen and Cochran are also convicted on charges of retaliating against a witness.  Federal law sets sentences on such charges in relation to the charges they tried to interfere with, so the three could possibly be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison.  The three, members of a “republican revolutionary militia,” allegedly tied a witness to a chair, threatened him, cut him with a knife, then beat him, after the witness had agreed to testify against his cousins, militia leaders Everett and Bobby Wayne Hager.

 

June 23, 2000, Florida:  White supremacist Lawrence Lombardi is convicted in Tallahassee, Florida, of two bombings in 1999 at Florida A&M University, a historically black university.  Lombardi faces up to life in prison. 

 

June 27, 2000, California:  Jason Williams receives a 56 month prison sentence for attempted arson and other charges related to an attack on a black neighbor in the San Diego area with a homemade flamethrower in March 2000.

 

June 27, 2000, Wisconsin:  John Titus Dolk is convicted in West Bend, Wisconsin, of two counts of simulating legal process by filing false documents with county officials.  The “sovereign citizen” faces up to five years in prison.

 

June 28, 2000, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado:  A federal grand jury indicts in Boise five people with eight felony charges for attempting to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.  Gary A. DeMott, Marilu Koehn, Terry M. Roark, Ava J. Gambler, and Mike B. Powell (the latter from Utah), members of the Idaho Sovereignty Association, allegedly used bogus trusts and land patents to prepare false tax returns for a variety of people in Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, and Colorado.

 

June 28, 2000, California:  Murrieta tax protester Timothy J. Lundberg, a small business owner, pleads guilty to conspiracy charges relating to his efforts with the help of Fredrick Schuppert of a group called “We the People” to interfere with an IRS audit of his glove business.  He faces up to 20 years behind bars.  Schuppert pled guilty earlier.

 

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