The Associated Press, June 26, 2003
By Mike Robinson, The Associated Press
The jailed leader of a white supremacist group, already charged with soliciting the murder of a federal judge, was accused in a fresh indictment Wednesday of obstructing justice by lying to her as well.
Matthew Hale, 31, of East Peoria was accused of lying to U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in a letter he wrote to her last December concerning a copyright infringement lawsuit against his organization.
The charge came on top of an indictment announced in January accusing Hale of soliciting Lefkow’s murder after she ruled against him in the copyright case.
Hale’s group — formerly known as the World Church of the Creator — came to national attention in July 1999 when one of its members, Benjamin Smith, went on a three-day shooting rampage that left two victims dead and nine others wounded before Smith took his own life.
Since Hale was arrested in January on the murder solicitation charge, he has been held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago in lieu of bond.
Hale’s group is being sued by TE-TA-MA Truth Foundation — Family of URI, Inc., an Oregon-based religious group. It claims to have copyrighted the name Church of the Creator years ago and does not share Hale’s openly white supremacist and anti-Semitic views.
Lefkow initially found in favor of Hale in the copyright case, but that decision was reversed by a federal appeals panel and Lefkow then ordered Hale and his organization to stop using the name.
Hale was accused in the new indictment of lying in a Dec. 12 letter in which he told Lefkow: “From my understanding of the court’s order, I have no material in my control or possession that falls afoul of it.”
“Defendant Hale had in his possession and control at least 97 publications with the trademarked term ‘Church of the Creator’ at various locations in Illinois” at the time of the letter, the indictment said.
Hale defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin said the government’s decision to bring additional charges “just goes to show how desperate they are to come up with more dirt on Matt Hale.”
“They’re just trying to put out more in the public domain for you guys to write about,” Durkin said.
Prosecutors already had made public a taped conversation in which Hale talks with an unnamed individual who was secretly cooperating with the FBI about the possibility of getting Lefkow’s home address.
On the tape, the unnamed individual asks Hale: “Are we going to exterminate the rat?”
“Well, whatever you want to do, basically,” Hale answers.
The fresh indictment disclosed that the other party to the conversation was the leader of Hale’s “White Berets” — a group of bodyguards he had formed to assure his personal protection. The person is not named.
The indictment also quoted from a November 2002 e-mail from Hale to his followers saying he had heard that Lefkow had handed down an order “that in effect places our church in a state of war with this federal judge and any acting on authority from her kangaroo court.”