Skinheads Sentenced for Attempted Temple Fire
Five skinheads who admitted to an attempted fire-bombing of a Jewish temple were sentenced to as much as 15 years in prison Friday, including one who threw the Molotov cocktail to “earn” a Nazi tattoo.
“It sends a very strong message that this type of hatred will not be tolerated, at least not in this community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.
All five self-proclaimed white supremacists--ages 19 to 26--agreed to plead guilty on federal hate crime and bomb-related charges as part of a plea bargain that kept them from maximum sentences of as much as 30 years.
The sentencing came a year and a day after they tried unsuccessfully to burn down Temple Emanu-El on Nov. 30, 1999, tossing a plastic liter bottle filled with concrete at an 8-foot-tall window and then the Molotov cocktail. The window shattered, but didn’t break and the bomb only scorched the sidewalk.
U.S. District Judge David Hagen ordered the five to prison after prosecutors provided a photographic tour of one of the men’s Reno-area homes, which served as the group’s “clubhouse,” with walls covered with Nazi flags and hate material.
“One senior law enforcement officer said what he saw made the hair on the back of his neck stand up,” Bogden said.
“As you walk past the sign that says ‘Whites Only’ and the ‘Board of Legal Aliens’ you can see the KKK photograph,” he said of a large photograph of four men in white robes and hoods.
Defense lawyers argued the men were guilty of the bombing attempt, but that it was wrong to stiffen the sentences on the basis of the hate crime.
“This is a question of law, it is not a question of emotion,” said Mary Boetsch, a court-appointed attorney for one of the men.
“It does not matter that the hairs on the back of an officer’s neck stood up,” she said.
The young men subscribe to the neo-Nazi Christian Identity group, which believes whites are superior to others, Boetsch said.
“Even if it is bizarre or abhorrent or it has no basis in any rational thought that we can see, it is unconstitutional to punish my client for a belief system,’ Boetsch said.
“If the First Amendment means anything in this country, it means you have a right to hate or to be different.”
But the judge rejected the arguments.
“There isn’t any First Amendment refuge for a hate motive that was acted on criminally,” Hagen said.
The shortest sentence, five years, went to Joshua Kudlacek, 19, of Reno who supplied the gasoline can but didn’t go with the others to the temple.
“The whole situation really shouldn’t have happened,” Kudlacek told the judge. “I’m just going to work as hard as I can so I can get released as fast as I can and start my life over again.”
The others were sentenced to 14 to 15 years in federal prison.
“For what it’s worth, I regret my actions,” said Carl DeAmicis, 26, an unemployed drifter from the Sacramento area who threw the Molotov cocktail.
There was no comment from the others--Scott Hudson, 24, of Reno; Christopher Hampton, 23, of Reno who was the driver of the car and whose home was the clubhouse; and Daniel McIntosh, 20, of Sacramento and Auburn, Calif., who threw the concrete-filled bottle.
Five other skinheads, three in dark glasses, sat in the back of the courtroom throughout the three-hour sentencing hearing and a half-dozen others showed up at the end to show support for their friends. None had anything to say to reporters.
Three of the defendants had visible neo-Nazi tattoos, the most visible being the 4-inch-high swastika just above the right ear on DeAmicis’ shaved head. It was outlined in black and red in the middle.
“You can look him right in the head, and you see that swastika carved in his head. It’s red. He wanted it red, but he had to do something to earn it--that was to throw the fire bomb,” Bogden said.
“When they learned the synagogue was not burning, they discussed going back to ‘do the deed and do it right,’ ” he said.
Bogden explained later, outside court that the “skinhead mentality is to earn ‘reds’ you must draw blood.”
“When he filled the tattoo in red it obligated him to draw blood or some other serious offense,” he said.
Prosecutors believe the five were affiliated with a gang called the Reno Aryan Skinheads--but defense lawyers said there was no such group.
Kudlacek “admitted to certain beliefs. He admitted to being a skinhead. But he never was a member of a particular group,” said his lawyer, Loren Graham.
McIntosh told investigators he did it partly because of peer pressure but “also because he felt he was doing something for his race,” Bogden said.
Bogden quoted McIntosh as saying he had targeted Jews because “they are evil, they control the media and they put racial mixing on TV and that is wrong.
“That’s where this individual’s head is at,” Bogden said.