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White supremacist goes on trial

By
DAVE HASKELL

BOSTON, July 8 (UPI) -- A self-described white supremacist and his girlfriend went on trial in Boston on Monday on federal charges of conspiring to incite a "racial holy war" by blowing up sites associated with Jews and blacks.

Leo V. Felton, 31, and Erica Chase, 22, were indicted last year on charges of plotting to make a destructive explosive device, conspiracy, counterfeiting and obstruction of justice.

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Felton, in addition, was also charged with receiving explosives, bank robbery and felony possession of a firearm.

Jury selection began Monday with U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner presiding. Opening statements were scheduled for July 15, with the trial expected to last about five weeks.

Felton and Chase were arrested in April 2001 allegedly attempting to pass counterfeit money at a doughnut shop in East Boston.

A subsequent search of their apartment in Boston's North End turned up bomb-making literature and material linking him to an Aryan brotherhood group, the White Order of Thule, prosecutors said.

The government alleged that as a member of the group, Felton advocated violence as a way to advance a white power agenda to rid the United States of a multiracial society and its perceived Jewish influence.

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While no specific targets were named in the indictments, prosecutors said materials found in the apartment suggested possible targets included the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, the Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge -- named after the late Jewish leader of the local Anti-Defamation League -- and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Felton, a 6-foot-7-inch Maryland native who has the words SKIN and HEAD tattooed on the sides of his skull, has described himself as an "unrepentant enemy of the multicultural myth."

He allegedly tried to kill himself in prison after the indictment last year revealed his father was an African-American.

In a subsequent letter to the Boston Herald, Felton complained that revealing his racial origin alienated him from his Aryan friends, "the only community I've known since I was 17."

One of those was Thomas "Hammer" Struss, who served time in a New Jersey prison with Felton and was allegedly a member of Felton's five-person "cell." Struss, arrested in New Jersey for trying to steal a car, reportedly cut a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Felton after learning his father was black.

Also expected to testify against Felton was his estranged wife, Lisa Meetre, who married him while he was in prison in 1993.

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It was after Felton's extramarital relationship with Chase was revealed by the original June 2001 indictment that Meetre reportedly was granted immunity in exchange for testifying against Felton.

In announcing additional charges against Felton and Chase on Sept. 19, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan likened the alleged bomb plot to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

"Last week's acts of terrorism on the United States show how deadly hatred can be," Sullivan said. "Fortunately in this case, the defendants were apprehended before their plan to attack sites associated with African-Americans and Jewish communities ... could be carried out."

Felton's court-appointed attorney, Lenore Glaser, has argued that the government was putting her client on trial for his white supremacist ideas rather than for any actual crimes. She said investigators found no evidence of an actual bomb.

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