Ten members of the neo-Nazi group The Order were convicted of racketeering and other charges Monday in a crime spree that prosecutors said was aimed at financing a civil war against the federal government.
The nine men and one woman were accused of crimes ranging from the assassination of an outspoken Jewish radio talk-show host to more than $4 million in robberies in 1983 and 1984.
“It was the only decision we could make, based on the evidence,” jury forewoman Mary Ball said. The defendants’ “beliefs and all that were never part of it.”
Assistant U.S. Atty. Gene Wilson said that the jury’s verdict “sends a message that you can’t do things like this. Obviously, the government is capable of dealing with people who choose to do that.”
The Department of Justice said it was the first time that the 16-year-old racketeering law has been used in a “political” case. Most of the trials conducted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act have been for organized crime or drug ring figures, spokesman John Russell said.
The trial began Sept. 9, and the jury deliberated two weeks.
Bruce Carroll Pierce, Gary Lee Yarbrough, Randolph Duey, Richard Kemp, Andrew Barnhill, Ardie McBrearty, David Lane, Randall Evans, Frank Silva and Jean Craig Pierce all were convicted of racketeering.
Pierce, Duey, Kemp, Yarbrough and Barnhill were convicted in armored car robberies but acquitted of bombing an adult theater.
Pierce, Yarbrough, Duey, Kemp, Evans and Barnhill face separate charges in a $3.6-million armored car robbery near Ukiah, Calif.
The defendants showed little reaction as the verdicts were read. Barnhill and McBrearty winked as they left the courtroom, while Evans said, “Christ is king.”
Neil Halprin, McBrearty’s lawyer, said he was “cynical” about the verdicts. “I knew it was going to be real difficult for the jury to separate the 10 defendants. . . . It would have been very difficult to see someone with people accused of murder and armed robbery and not convict them because they were friends.”
Halprin said he would appeal, but another defense attorney had an opposite reaction.
“You don’t like to lose, but I don’t see how anybody can complain about the jury giving us all due consideration,” said Tony Savage, attorney for Barnhill. “It seemed to me they very thoroughly reviewed the evidence and we lost.”
Witnesses said the group was founded and led by Robert Mathews, a one-time tax protester and family man who became a revolutionary bent on “giving white children a future.” He died in a shoot-out with federal agents in December, 1984.
Prosecution witnesses also testified that Order members were assigned assassination targets, such as prominent Jews and television network presidents, who were considered enemies of the white race, and that the group followed the plot of “The Turner Diaries,” a white supremacist novel depicting a band of Aryan warriors waging war against the government and financing their efforts through robberies and counterfeiting.
There were no witnesses to the killing of Denver radio host Alan Berg, in which Pierce was the alleged triggerman. But prosecutors used a fingerprint on a hotel registration to trace Pierce to Denver on the date of the killing, and ballistics evidence to show that bullet shells from the murder weapon were found at his house.
U.S. District Judge Walter McGovern set sentencing for Feb. 6-7. Defendants face sentences ranging from 40 to 100 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
In Colorado, Dist. Atty. Norm Early said he would study the testimony in the federal trial to determine whether to try Pierce, Lane and Craig on state charges in Berg’s murder. Lane is suspected of driving the getaway car and Craig of conducting surveillance.