Ex-member of white supremacist group sentenced

Franksville man, who changed his Jewish name to fit in, is troubled, lawyer says

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/August 30, 2003
By Gina Barton

Fears of persecution by Nazis because he is Jewish led Michael Kenneth Faust to change his name, dye his hair and attempt to bleach his olive skin.

Ultimately, Faust became involved in white supremacist organizations for his own protection, his attorney said Friday.

Attorney William U. Burke said that when he met Faust, who was accused of teaching young neo-Nazi wannabes how to fire guns on Faust's grandmother's Racine County farm, Burke was troubled by the nature of the charges.

At their first meeting, Burke said, he told Faust, "We've got a long way to go - I'm not crazy about Nazis," and his client replied, "Neither am I."

According to Burke, it was the lawyer's first indication that Faust may have some serious mental health problems.

That was apparent during Faust's sentencing Friday in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee. One minute, Faust was sobbing and telling U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman he wished he'd had a father like his lawyer. The next, the gallery was viewing home videos of Faust firing weapons and chanting white power slogans.

Faust, 36, formerly known as Kenneth Michael Botsch, pleaded guilty in May to two federal firearms charges. A former member of the white supremacist National Socialist Movement, he served eight years in prison for shooting a 14-year-old in the chest in 1990.

In December 2002, FBI agents serving a search warrant at the Franksville farm where he lived with his grandmother found 15 guns, including an assault rifle and a sawed-off shotgun. One weapon was stashed under a stairway; another was in a dog kennel. Authorities also seized 700 rounds of ammunition and four videos Faust had made, apparently to recruit others into hate groups.

Adelman sentenced Faust to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release, the maximum probation term allowed. Faust also must pay a $1,000 fine and receive mental health treatment.

Burke had sought a lesser sentence because of Faust's psychological and emotional problems. In December, the court ordered Faust to receive a mental evaluation. He was placed on psychotropic medication. Since then, he has tried to help the government catch the people who sold him the guns, and he has apologized in writing to people involved in the case, Burke said.

"There's no denying what he's done, but I'm not so sure that jail with neo-Nazis and skinheads is a great idea," Burke said.

Faust asked Adelman for forgiveness and mercy, saying his mind became "twisted and warped" by the Internet and that "bad people caused me to lose everything, like my name and my mind." He promised never to use guns again.

When Adelman asked what had made Faust change his ways, he sobbed.

"It really hurt me when my attorney told me how one of his friends had suffered a tragedy," Faust said through tears. "I really have trouble making decisions on my own."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard G. Frohling argued that Faust's criminal history and the need to protect the public warranted at least the 63-month prison term. Adelman agreed. However, both acknowledged that Faust is a troubled man.

"You've made real progress since you were first arrested," the judge told Faust. "When you're under control, you have some good qualities. I hope you do whatever you can to let those win out."

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