MIAMI (May. 14)
A fantastic terrorist plot involving the bombing of a local editor’s home, the alleged planned assassination of prominent Jews here, among them Dade County State Attorney Richard A. Gerstein, and police counter-intelligence work in which an undercover policeman deliberately planted simulated “dynamite” sticks in front of a synagogue, was revealed here today in Criminal Court.
The disclosures were made here by one of the intended victims. Mr. Gerstein, when he appeared before Criminal Court Judge Gene Williams to argue against motions by attorneys for three indicted men who sought to quash the indictments. After a stormy hearing, however, Judge Williams upheld the indictment against the principal defendant, Donald Branch, 25, accused of placing dynamite last February, resulting in the blowing up of the home of Don Shoemaker, editor of the Miami Herald.
Judge Williams did quash the indictments charging possession of explosives drawn previously against Branch and two other men, George Victer, 50, an electrician; and Michael Babey, 27, like Branch, a former employee of the City Water Department. Branch was remanded for trial on June 19, and continued in $25,000 bail. The indictments negated against him and the two others will be redrawn and re-filed against all three, Mr. Gerstein said. All three men had posted their high bail bonds, although they earn an average of $305 a month, the State Attorney said.
All three are accused of being members of the ultra-right-wing “Minutemen.” Branch is accused of having been also interested in becoming a member of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party, and of having possessed swastika-emblazoned hate literature. City Manager Melvin Reese fired Branch and Babey as soon as they were arrested.
PREVIOUS SYNAGOGUE BOMBINGS UNSOLVED; ANSHE EMETH PLOT A HOAX
According to Mr. Gerstein, Miami police and the Sheriff’s office, efforts have been under way a long time to probe the unsolved bombing here of Beth El and Tifereth Israel Congregations, and the threat to blow up Temple Judea of nearby Coral Gables. Last February, when the home of Mr. Shoemaker was bombed, there were anonymous threats of dynamiting also the home of William Baggs, editor of the Miami News. Then, last month, police announced they had found five sticks of dynamite on the lawn in front of Congregation Anshe Emeth.
It turns out now, however, that the “dynamite” in front of Anshe Emet consisted really of truncated broom sticks planted there by the police undercover man, Stefan Plumacher. The latter, a trusted policeman, is 26 years of age, and was born in Germany. He had been assigned to infiltrate into the “Minutemen” organization and simulated the “bombing” of Anshe Emet to prove his “loyalty” to the right-wing group.
According to Mr. Gerstein and the Sheriff’s office, it had been planned to continue the investigations for a longer period. However, the rightists inadvertently spotted Plumacher as a policeman. Raids on the homes of the three men and their arrest followed quickly.
Mr. Gerstein said that in Branch’s home, as well as through his alleged conversations with Plumacher, it had been discovered that the rightists planned to assassinate Mr. Gerstein; Jack Gordon, a member of the Dade County Board of Public Instruction; Samuel Friedland, chairman of the board of a large chain of food stores; and William D. Singer, executive of another food-store chain, who was formerly chairman of the State Road Board.
BRANCH FILES REPORTED MARKED ‘JEW’; 17 POLICEMEN WORKED ON PROBE
At today’s five-hour hearing, the defense admitted, by demanding the return of Branch’s property, that Branch had in his home three rifles, a blackjack, a pistol and various files. Mr. Gerstein denied that any files had been taken from Branch. Earlier, however, it was stated by police that Branch had various files marked “Jew,” “Negro,” and “U.S. Government,” He also had applications forms for membership in the American Nazi Party and a “Storm Trooper’s Manual” issued by Rockwell–according to both police and defense attorneys.
Meanwhile, a dispute has broken out inside the ranks of the Police Benevolent Association here, revealing an additional highlight–the fact that, in all, 17 members of the police force had participated in the investigations leading to the arrest of the 17 men. The City Manager had recommended that the 17 police officers be given $20 monthly pay increases for their achievement in breaking the rightists plots. The PBA opposes the salary hikes.