White supremacists trained with AK-47s, planned for 'inevitable' race war, affidavit says

Three more suspects were arrested, bringing the total number of arrests to 10

The Orlando Sentinel/May 8, 2012

Five miles from the nearest paved road, on a compound surrounded by barbed wire in a desolate area of Osceola County, investigators say, Marcus Faella was preparing his troops for war.

Race war.

Faella — who sees himself and his compatriots as "protectors of the white race" — was convinced it was "inevitable" and planned to kill Jews, immigrants and minorities, according to a recently filed affidavit. As they trained in firearm and hand-to-hand combat, members of the white-supremacist group American Front discussed acts of violence and disruption with targets including Orlando's City Hall, authorities allege.

They also discussed manufacturing ricin, the affidavit says, a deadly poison "which is categorized as a Weapon of Mass Destruction."

Faella, his wife, Patricia, and at least nine others — including three recently named suspects — have been arrested since Friday on several charges, one of which involves "paramilitary training" — specifically, teaching another person to either make or use a firearm or destructive device while knowing or intending that it "will be unlawfully employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder within the United States."

Those three recently arrested suspects are Richard A. Stockdale, Dustin R. Perry and Christopher J. Brooks.

All three wore the red-and-white striped uniforms of high-risk inmates and they were held in three separate cages during their brief first-appearance hearings today.

Perry and Brooks were ordered held on bonds of more than $500,000 each. Bond for Stockdale was set at more than $1 million.

His bond was higher because of a probation violation.

Court records show one of the conditions of Stockdale's probation for a racially motivated beating in 2008 was to have no contact with the American Front and its members.

Authorities would not reveal any details about the investigation or the crimes.

However, the affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel states the arrests came after a nearly two-year investigation, which unearthed heavy-duty firearms purchases and training for "the upcoming race war."

According to the affidavit, Faella had a firearm stockpile on his property on Harris Road east of Holopaw. In a addition to barbed wire, the compound has been fortified with railroad timbers, cement pilings and other building materials and stocked with ammunition and military-style meals ready to eat, or MREs. He had also cut firing ports into the walls of his trailer.

During shooting drills, documents state, Faella used a racial slur in instructing American Front members to imagine their targets were the heads of African-Americans. In July 2011, a U.S. National Guardsman who is also a member of the group's Missouri chapter gave training in hand-to-hand-combat and edged weapons, the affidavit says.

Marcus Faella, 39, and Patricia Faella, 36, were jailed in Osceola County on Friday and have since been released after posting $500,000 bond each. Florida corporation filings show the couple and Mark McGowan — who was arrested Sunday — officially incorporated American Front Inc. last year, with the stated purpose of "Religious and cultural preservation of the European people."

But the Anti-Defamation League identifies American Front as "a racist skinhead group" active in several states, with membership mostly limited to Florida and California. And the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office, in a statement, referred to the group as a "domestic terrorist organization."

The arrests followed an investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation.

"This investigation is a result of our on-going partnership with local law enforcement and federal agencies in a concentrated effort to stamp out hate crime in our community," State Attorney Lawson Lamar said in a statement, adding his office "will review the investigation and will file the appropriate criminal charges."

The affidavit filed to secure warrants for the Faellas and other AF members details startling allegations:

• In November 2010, Marcus Faella "began intently expressing his vision to create an 'Aryan Compound' where all the AF members could live when the United States government fails."

• On Feb. 28, during one of several "mandatory" firearms-training sessions detailed in the affidavit, Faella "started planning to cause a disturbance at City Hall in Orlando." He allegedly explained that the group had been "dormant" for too long and wanted to attract media attention for recruiting.

• On March 17, a member was tasked with infiltrating another skinhead group that opposes racial prejudice. Faella also discussed targeting members of that group for an ambush.

The affidavit details a wide array of weapons possessed by the group, from AK-47 assault rifles to sharpened screwdrivers authorities say some members carried to avoid being charged with carrying concealed weapons if arrested.

When AF members decided to disrupt a rival group's May 1 anarchist protest, the affidavit says, the signs they planned to carry were modified to double as weapons. It's unclear if the protest or counter-protest took place.

In a 2011 report, the ADL detailed the American Front's activities, with members in Winter Park, St. Cloud, Cocoa and Satsuma. The American Front is also being tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps tabs on hate groups.

"We've been aware of Marcus Faella since 1993 when he was a member of the Confederate Hammerskins, a violent skinhead group, and head of the Melbourne chapter," said SPLC spokesman Mark Potok in a telephone interview.

Acting in that role, Faella defended the Hammerskins to the Sentinel in 1993 after a letter was sent to the Melbourne Police Department. The letter threatened to kill black officers. Faella insisted no one in his group wrote it. "What we are about is education," he said at the time.

Faella joined the California-based American Front, which faded away in the late 1990s until a resurgence in 2007 with Faella in a leadership role, Potok said.

Palm Bay ex-convict Christopher Brooks, 27, was the last of the eight AF members to be arrested so far. He was picked up Monday by St. Cloud police while painting a house, according to police, with a large tattoo of swastika covering his scalp.

Another suspect, Richard "Swamp Nazi" Stockdale of St. Cloud, had been painting the house with Brooks but left before officers arrived. Stockdale, 23, has a red-white-blue Confederate flag tattooed around his neck. Anyone who sees him is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-8477.

Stockdale was sentenced to more than a year in prison on battery charges in October 2008. Investigators said he attacked a Hispanic high-school student at a party, beating the teen repeatedly while chanting "white power."

Other suspected members of the American Front arrested so far are: Diane Stevens, 28, Kent McLellan, 22, and Paul Jackson, 25, and Jennifer McGowan, the wife of Mark McGowan, the group's financial director.

According to Facebook, Mark McGowan went to Melbourne High School and works for Deseret Cattle & Citrus, a nearly 300,000-acre ranch covering parts of Brevard, Orange and Osceola counties. His wife posted on Facebook that she works as a court reporter.

Diane Stevens, whose mug shot shows that she has at least one swastika tattoo, is a former certified nursing assistant. It's unclear where she worked.

McLellan, who served prison time for a criminal-mischief conviction out of Putnam County, has tattoos of a swastika, the Aryan Nation symbol and others.

An Anti-Defamation League report said McLellan served just over one year in prison for vandalizing a church and restaurant in September 2008. McLellan claimed he spray-painted swastikas, "white power" and "RAHOWA" — signifying "Racial Holy War" — on the structures.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he has been arrested nine times in the state, most recently in March 2011, when he was booked in Osceola County on burglary, aggravated stalking and contempt-of-court charges.

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