Security tightened for Hale sentencing

East Peorian faces up to 40 years in prison for soliciting judge’s murder

CHICAGO – Security is expected to be tight this morning when a sentencing hearing begins for white supremacist Matt Hale, who was convicted last year of soliciting the murder of a federal judge.

The 33-year-old East Peorian faces up to 40 years in prison for committing what amounts to an act of terrorism against the government, federal prosecutors have said. Hale, acting as his own attorney, has argued in court filings that he should not receive more than eight years and one month in prison.

A jury in April 2004 convicted Hale, leader of the now-defunct World Church of the Creator, of encouraging a follower to kill U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow. Hale was angry because the Chicago-based judge ordered his organization in late 2002 to stop using its name, which was legally trademarked by a Christian church in Oregon.

The federal government’s case centered on a series of recorded conversations between Hale and his follower, who actually was an FBI mole. Hale also was convicted of three counts of obstructing justice, although one of those counts was later overturned by trial judge James Moody.

Moody has reserved a courtroom at Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building beginning today through Friday. It wasn’t known whether Hale’s sentencing will take that long.

The U.S. Marshals Service plans to impose extra security precautions, but details weren’t available, a spokeswoman said. During Hale’s trial, spectators had to pass through a metal detector and have packages and purses inspected by a bomb-sniffing dog before entering the courtroom.

The government considers Hale a potential threat even behind bars. He has been held under the strict conditions of “special administrative measures” in a Chicago jail following his January 2003 arrest on murder-solicitation charges. Hale has asked that he be allowed to serve his sentence at the federal prison in Pekin so that he can be closer to his parents, who reside in nearby East Peoria.

In a court filing late last month, Hale said authorities told him they will not allow contact with his family for one year because Hale’s mother relayed a statement from him to the media. In the message, Hale denounced the Feb. 28 murders of Judge Lefkow’s husband and mother.

Hale and his sympathizers were a major focus of the investigation until the shooting deaths were traced to a disgruntled plaintiff in a medical lawsuit Lefkow dismissed.

Hale became a controversial figure in central Illinois because of his avowed racist beliefs. In 1999, his notoriety grew when a disciple went on a shooting rampage that targeted Jews and racial minorities. The shooter killed two people and wounded several more before he committed suicide.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Copley News Service, via, USA
Apr. 6, 2005
Mike Ramsey

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday April 6, 2005.
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