FBI undercover plant climbed World Church of Creator ranks for 2 years
PJStar, July 14, 2003
By MIKE ROBINSON, of the Associated Press
CHICAGO – He was always there, trusted, a true believer.
And he was a plant – an undercover FBI mole who wore a hidden body wire and secretly taped Hale’s words, which prosecutors will use as evidence in his upcoming trial on charges of soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
“The FBI source had an extremely close relationship with the defendant,” federal prosecutors say in recently filed court papers.
Hale, 31, of East Peoria has been held in federal custody for five months under the type of security most often reserved for al-Qaida terrorists.
He is accused of soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow after she ruled against him in a trademark violation lawsuit.
If federal prosecutors succeed in convicting Hale, it is certain that the informant’s testimony will have been key.
Hale has pleaded innocent to the charges.
Defense attorneys Thomas Anthony Durkin and Patrick W. Blegan say the mole sought to lure Hale into soliciting murder but never succeeded.
“The only person who wanted to solicit murder here was the government informant,” Durkin said. “This is a government-instigated case.”
The World Church of the Creator, founded in 1973 by a former Florida state lawmaker, Ben Klassen, has a history of violence.
Its doctrine of “racial holy war,” or “RAHOWA,” as members often like to shorten it, is outlined in Klassen’s book, “The White Man’s Bible.”
A Florida woman won a court judgment against the group for playing a role in the 1991 murder of her son, a Persian Gulf War veteran.
Law enforcement officials focused harder on the group following the Fourth of July weekend in 1999 when a 21-year-old former member, Benjamin Smith, went on a three-day shooting rampage that left two dead and nine wounded.
The manhunt ended when Smith shot himself, bringing the toll to three.
Prosecutors say FBI agents were surprised when they visited Hale where he lived in East Peoria with his father, a retired police officer.
They quote Hale as saying he suspected throughout the weekend that Smith was the gunman police were looking for but never called to say so.
When asked why not, Hale told the agents that it was their job to catch the gunman and not his, federal prosecutors say in court papers.
At that point, the mole was inserted into Hale’s organization.
“The source eventually rose in the ranks of the (group) and became head of the White Berets, an elite group of members who served as security for the defendant,” according to the court papers.
Federal prosecutors have not revealed the mole’s name. They have said that he lives in the Chicago area and got $50,000 in FBI informant pay.
The solicitation to commit murder charge stems from a trademark violation lawsuit against Hale’s organization by an Oregon religious group.
TE-TA-MA Truth Foundation – Family of URI Inc. says it favors “the family unification of mankind in all aspects of the whole” and does not share the white supremacist views of Hale and his followers.
TE-TA-MA also says in its lawsuit it owns the trademark rights to the name Church of the Creator. Lefkow initially found in favor of Hale. But that was reversed on appeal, and she then ordered Hale to give up the name.
Hale’s group began to call itself the Creativity Movement, although a number of Web sites including one in Australia beyond the easy reach of U.S. courts still refer to it as the World Church of the Creator.
Prosecutors say the judge’s order last November angered Hale.
They say he sent an e-mail to supporters quoting from “The White Man’s Bible” and saying the order placed them in a “state of war” with Lefkow.
A Dec. 4 e-mail from Hale ordered the FBI mole to find Lefkow’s home address and those of three TE-TA-MA attorneys.
“Any action of any kind against those seeking to destroy our religious liberties is entirely up to each and every Creator according to the dictates of his own conscience. RAHOWA!” it concluded.
One day later, the mole materialized in East Peoria and told Hale face-to-face with the hidden recorder turned on that he had received the e-mail.
“That information . . . yes . . . for educational purposes and for whatever reason you wish it to be,” Hale says.
The mole says he has a way of getting the addresses.
“Ah, when we get it, we gonna exterminate the rat?” the mole asks.
“Well, whatever you want to do, basically,” Hale says. He goes on to say that he will “fight within the law.”
“If you wish to do anything yourself, you can,” Hale adds. “So that makes it clear.”
“Consider it done,” the mole says.
“Good,” says Hale.
A month later, Hale was arrested as he entered the federal courthouse in Chicago.