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Jury convicts white supremacists

By DAVE HASKELL   |   July 26, 2002 at 5:27 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, July 26 (UPI) -- A federal jury in Boston Friday convicted two alleged white supremacists of conspiring to ignite a race war with a bomb.

Prosecutors said Leo V. Felton and his girlfriend, Erica Chase, 22, plotted to blow up landmarks associated with Jews and African-Americans, hoping to create chaos among the races.

The jury deliberated for about seven hours over two days before finding Felton and Chase guilty of conspiring to make a bomb and counterfeit bills, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and firearms violations. Felton was also convicted of counterfeiting.

The two were arrested in April 2001 after a police officer caught Chase allegedly attempting to pass a counterfeit bill at a doughnut shop in East Boston.

Authorities said a subsequent search of their apartment turned up bomb-making materials and recipes, as well as drawings depicting bloody attacks on blacks and Jews and newspaper clippings about Jewish landmarks in Boston, including the New England Holocaust Memorial.

The jury of seven women and five men got the case Thursday afternoon after closing arguments.

"Their plan was to ignite a racial holy war through violent terrorist action," Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Schulman told the jurors in U.S. District Court.

Schulman said the two were not tried for their political beliefs, but for crimes committed as part of their conspiracy.

Prosecutors alleged Felton and Chase organized a white supremacist terrorist cell with plans to fund it through bank robbery and counterfeiting.

The government alleged Felton, the son of a black father and a white mother who were civil rights activists, wanted to rid the United States of what he called "mud people" -- blacks, Jews, Asians and Latinos.

"They were both long-standing white supremacists committed to a vision of an all-white America," Schulman said.

Lenore Glaser, Felton's defense attorney, told jurors the government failed to prove that her client was a terrorist.

She said the fact he drew cartoon strips depicting terrorist attacks on blacks and Jews did not make him a terrorist, just a misguided artist with strong political beliefs.

"Whether or not you agree with those beliefs," she said, "in this country people have those rights. This is not a case where political ideas are on trial."

Chase's attorney, Timothy Watkins, conceded his client helped make counterfeit money and bought a gun, but said she did not share in Felton's plan to build a fertilizer bomb.

"It's a line Erica Chase did not cross," Watkins said. "She did not agree with Leo Felton to build a bomb, to start a racial holy war."

During the nine-day trial, prosecutors alleged Felton planned to blow up sites in Boston linked to Jews and blacks, as well as the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington.

He also intended to target Jewish media moguls such as Steven Spielberg and black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the government alleged.

Felton, who has the words SKIN and HEAD tattooed on the sides of his head, was a member of a self-described Aryan Order known as the White Order of Thule, which advocated violence as a way to advance a white power agenda, prosecutors said.

The government said Chase was a member of a white power hate group known as the World Church of the Creator. She and Felton became pen pals two years ago when he was in prison in New Jersey. When he was released from prison last year, he relocated to Massachusetts where he was joined by Chase.

Felton faced a minimum sentence of 35 years in prison, while Chase could get about eight years.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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