White supremacist was not manipulated into soliciting a judge’s murder, feds contend
CHICAGO – White supremacist Matt Hale was not manipulated into soliciting a U.S. judge’s murder and made statements supporting the use of violence against others, federal prosecutors argued this week.
The 32-year-old East Peorian was arrested nearly a year ago on Jan. 8, 2003, for allegedly encouraging a bodyguard – actually a paid FBI informant – to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow after the Chicago-based judge ruled against Hale’s World Church of the Creator in a trademark-infringement suit.
Hale’s trial is slated to begin April 5 in Chicago.
Hale defense attorneys in September said the criminal charge should be dropped because the FBI informant went to unacceptable lengths to get Hale to make incriminating statements. They deny Hale said anything to justify the indictment.
But in a 22-page response filed late Tuesday, assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman disagreed.
Weisman said Hale stirred up his followers against Lefkow and did not condemn the bodyguard’s proposal to “exterminate the rat,” a reference to the judge. The informant sent Hale an e-mail on Dec. 9, 2002, saying he had contacted an “exterminator” who would do “a good quiet job,” according to the court filing.
“The defendant never responded to this e-mail,” according to Weisman’s report. “Significantly, he never communicated that there had been a misunderstanding … nor did the defendant instruct or order the (informant) not to follow through with the plan.”
The government said the informant – previously identified in court papers as Tony Evola – began providing information to the FBI in 1999 about “various issues, including white supremacists.” He was recruited into the World Church of the Creator in March 2000, and Hale later tapped him as a security aide and confidant, the filing said.
Hale may not have condoned violence in some of his public comments, prosecutors said, but privately, he praised the July 1999 shooting rampage of disciple Benjamin Smith, who killed two minorities and injured several others before committing suicide.
Further, the government has suggested Hale knew Smith’s plans.
In a December 2000 conversation monitored by the feds, Hale told the FBI informant of his desire to shoot “all the enemies of our race,” this week’s filing said.
“I mean, some people go out and hunt deer,” Hale is quoted as saying. “Well, hell, I think it’s a hell of a lot more sporting to hunt a Jew, you know, theoretically.”
The federal judge overseeing the Hale case is expected to issue a written ruling about the defense’s motion to dismiss the murder-solicitation charge and a related count of obstruction of justice.
Meanwhile, Hale’s defense attorneys are seeking to sever or dismiss another charge that Hale tried to get a second follower to kill Lefkow or have her killed.
The follower has previously been identified as Jon Fox, whom the defense attorneys say lived in Creve Coeur at the time of the alleged solicitation. In addition, Hale is accused of lying to Lefkow in the trademark case and instructing his father to lie to a grand jury investigating the Smith killings.
The former World Church of the Creator, which Hale ran from his father’s East Peoria home, is now known as the Creativity Movement. With Hale jailed without bond and awaiting trial, the white-power group reportedly lacks leadership and funds.