SEATTLE (Jan. 7)
The trial which concluded last month with the jury finding 10 members of The Order–a neo-Nazi white supremacist and violent anti-Semitic group based in the Northwest–guilty of racketeering has broken the organization, a prosecutor said here.
“I hope (the verdict) has a dampening effect on anybody, right and left, who considers committing crimes like this for political reasons,” added Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Wilson, one of a team of six prosecutors in the three-and-a-half-month trial. The defendants were tried under the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which requires the jury to find a defendant guilty of committing two crimes to advance the goals of a criminal organization in order to be found guilty of the charge of racketeering.
Each defendant from The Order was charged with carrying out two or more crimes out of an overall list of 67–which included two murders, three armored-car robberies, and counterfeiting as part of The Order’s plot to overthrow the government, kill Jews, and deport non-whites.
The jury of eight women and four men found each of the defendants guilty of racketeering after deliberating for nearly 55 hours. Each of the group of nine men and one woman faces a maximum 40-year prison term and a $50,000 fine. Several members of The Order were also found guilty of additional charges, such as robbery and weapons violations. Attorneys for three of the defendants said they would appeal the verdict.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 6 and 7. “Stiff sentences are appropriate, but that’s totally up to the judge,” said Wilson after the verdict was handed down. The jurist is U.S. District Judge Walter McGovern, who presided over the trial.
GROUP WILL TRY TO CONTINUE ITS MISSION
At the same time, several defendants and other right wingers asserted that the movement against Jews and Blacks will continue despite the outcome of the trial. Gary Lee Yarbrough, convicted of racketeering and robbery, said within hours of the verdict that the organization will continue its mission of spreading the propaganda of the Christian Identity movement, which preaches that Jews are descendants of the devil.
“There are thousands and thousands of people out there who believe as I believe,” the 20-year-old Sandpoint, Idaho, man told a local newspaper. “They are afraid because when you speak out on these beliefs the government comes down on you. But for every one that has left because their faith wasn’t strong enough, three more came.”
Thomas Metzger, leader of the California based White American Resistance, denounced the verdict. In a printed statement released at the courthouse in the waning days of the trial, he likened his convicted colleagues to martyrs for their cause.
Despite the openly racist and anti-Semitic beliefs of The Order which prosecution witnesses described, jurors ignored the defendants’ beliefs and convicted them solely on the evidence, said jury foreman Mary Ball.
Jurors heard evidence from 370 witnesses and examined more than 1,500 pieces of evidence in the course of the trial. Former members of the Order testified that the group planned to overthrow the government, and assassinate prominent Jews and other “white traitors” who stood in the way of their scheme to establish an Aryan nation.
BERG MURDER WAS ON LIST OF CRIMES
Ball refused to tell reporters whether any of the two crimes which each of the 10 defendants was guilty of included the murder of talk-show host Alan Berg of Denver. The jury was not required to reveal to the court which pair of crimes on each defendant’s list occasioned the verdict of guilty of racketeering.
The Berg murder was on the list of 67 crimes of The Order and was also one of the crimes defendant Bruce Carroll Pierce was charged with. Berg was gunned down in the driveway of his home on June 18, 1984. Prosecutors charged that the The Order had him assassinated because he was Jewish and relished baiting anti-Semitic callers on his talk-show program.
The prosecution argued that Berg was one of several well-known Jews targeted for assassination. A former member of The Order, Daw Parmenter of Denver, testified that the hit list also included “white traitors… those in power who went along with the destruction of the white race.” Ball said that the jurors found defendant Jean Craig guilty of surveilling Berg before he was murdered. This charge and that of dealing in stolen property were the only crimes on Craig’s list.
Colorado authorities who attended the trial said they are considering filing murder charges against Pierce. FBI agents testified at the trial that they linked Pierce to the machine-gun murder of Berg by matching bullets found at the murder scene with spent cartridges found at a home Pierce rented in Troy, Montana.
ONLY ONE LEADER REMAINS AT LARGE
Wilson said at the end of the trial that only one leader of The Order remains at large. He is Richard Scutari, who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, described at the trial as head of security and a dangerous man who discussed killing members believed to be leaking information.
Fears that Scutari might launch an escape effort for his colleagues prompted the U.S. Marshall’s office to spend more than $500,000 to station more than 30 marshalls in the courtroom and throughout the downtown federal courthouse where the trial took place. Convoys of police cars escorted the prisoners’ vans daily to the trial from a jail in nearby Tacoma, Washington.