Accused Bombers Choose Prison Over Trial

Reno Gazette-Journal/July 14, 2000
By Mike Henderson

Five men have pleaded guilty to November's firebombing of a Temple Emanu-El Synagogue in southwest Reno, and four face up to 40 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's office said Thursday.

The pleas came Wednesday night on the eve of what was to be the first in a series of trials in which the men described as self-avowed skinheads were charged with acts including committing a hate crime, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.

The five young men from Nevada and California were accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail Nov. 30 at the Temple Emanu-El Synagogue. Four of the men were in a car from which the firebomb was thrown, according to the federal indictment charging them. A plastic liter bottle filled with cement shattered a window, but the gasoline bomb that followed fell to the ground and burned only the sidewalk.

Sentences for the five may vary with their degree of involvement in the crime, Bogden said. The agreement for the men to plead guilty was worked out earlier Wednesday. But because five were involved, it took until evening for legal papers to be drafted and the men to appear in court. Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 30 before U.S. District Judge David Hagen.

"I think justice has been served," said Ray Solomon, president of the Temple Emanu-El congregation. "They are not getting away with anything. They might get a lesser sentence than if they'd gone to trial, but the point has been made."

Several members of the Jewish Defense League, some from California, plan to burn a Nazi battle flag and a flag of the Confederate States of America today in front of the federal courthouse on South Virginia Street to call attention to what they call the "cancer of racial hatred."

Rabbi Avraham Keller of Temple Emanu-El said the guilty pleas bring closure to the incident and that he disagrees with the tactic of burning flags to call attention to racial hatred in the nation.

"This is not a way to convey a message," he said.
"I don't believe that you will find many members of this Jewish community participating in any of this," Keller said. "All of this is the Jewish Defense League and they don't represent the Jewish Community or members of the Jewish community who live here."

Other denominations unite

The Reno-Sparks Metro Ministry also issued a statement opposing the flag burning.

"The answer to hatred and violence is not an additional dose of hatred and violence," said the Rev. Jackie Leonard, president of the group and minister for mission and outreach at St. John's Presbyterian Church in southwest Reno.

"We view this proposed action as the same kind of hatred we joined together to condemn when Temple Emanu-El was firebombed last fall."

Reno Police Deputy Chief Ondra Berry said Reno police officers, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service will be at the courthouse during the flag burning.

"The potential is there for the incident to escalate when you start talking about the burning of flags," he said. "We want to make sure there is no violation of the law."

Keller, the Jewish Defense League, and Leonard praised the teamwork of local and federal officials in apprehending the men who pleaded guilty, plus two juvenile girls who already have been committed to the state's youth correctional center in Caliente in southern Nevada.

Those pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy against rights of citizens; damage to religious property, which is a hate crime; and use of fire or explosives to commit a felony:

* Scott Cody Hudson, 23, who was on probation and lived in the Sacramento area but came to Reno to work in construction. He would stay at the Sundowner Hotel & Casino downtown during the week and became involved with other members of the group while in Reno, police said.

* Daniel Austin McIntosh, 20, and Carl Barry De Amicis, 25, arrested in the Sacramento area at the home of McIntosh's father. Police described the two as unemployed drifters who stayed with white-supremacist supporters in the Reno, Auburn, and Sacramento areas.

* Christopher Scott Hampton, 23, who lived in Reno's north valleys and worked in construction.

Each faces a sentence of up to 40 years, Bogden said.
Joshua Andrew Kudlacek, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of damage to religious property and one count of bombing property in and affecting interstate commerce.

He faces up to 35 years in prison for those offenses, Bogden said. Kudlacek also lived in Reno's north valleys.

The federal indictment charging the men describes them as "self-avowed skinheads who advocated white supremacy and the oppression of black, Jewish and other minority persons."

Activist Jews demonstrate

Irv Rubin, chairman of the Jewish Defense League, came to Reno from his base in Los Angeles for the trial and flag burning.

"What we're trying to do is warn the Jewish community that this cancer is not going away," he said in a press conference Thursday afternoon at Temple Emanu-El. His group, faced with acts of racial hatred, advocates martial-arts training for Jews and having Jews arm themselves.

"It's time to get a gun. It's time to own a gun," he said. "It's not un-Jewish for a Jew to possess a weapon. I don't want to see submissive Jews; I don't want to see humble Jews."

Asked if he represents the views of the Jewish community in Reno, he said, :"I don't care if I do, and I probably don't."

Ray Solomon, president of the Temple Emanu-El congregation, said some members of the congregation had called him or relayed messages to him objecting to the Jewish Defense League's using the property to stage a press conference.

"His presence is not a reflection of the synagogue's philosophies," Solomon said. "I will not say anymore. That should say enough."

Roberto Nerey, manager and consultant for Intervention Unlimited, and Mary Wilson, political action chairwoman for the Reno-Sparks NAACP chapter, appeared at the Defense League's press conference.

They said they were there to show Latino and African-American solidarity with the Jewish community in deploring racial violence but said they do not subscribe to the Defense League's views.

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