Supremacist's alleged plan described

Prosecutors see race war strategy

Boston Globe/March 29, 2002
By Thanassis Cambanis

White supremacist Leo Felton fantasized about an apocalyptic racial war in America and drew a detailed plan that describes a convict blowing up major Jewish and media organizations in Washington, D.C., then killing 850 African-Americans in a Chicago housing project to provoke a civil war, according to a document found in his North End apartment following his arrest last year.

Investigators said they found the 11-page plan in the apartment Felton, 30, shared with his girlfriend and codefendant Erica Chase, 22.

Assistant US Attorney S. Theodore Merritt said the document, along with other artifacts from white supremacist organizations found in Felton's home, helped explain why Felton and Chase had assembled the components of a bomb. Prosecutors have charged the two with targeting a Boston landmark, possibly the Holocaust Memorial near Faneuil Hall or the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

Felton's court-appointed lawyer, Lenore M. Glaser, dismissed the document as a fantasy comic book that offered no concrete evidence her client intended to blow up a Jewish or African-American landmark, as federal prosecutors have charged.

''It's certainly not proof of motive,'' Glaser said. ''It's a cartoon. Does that mean Stephen King should be locked up for writing creepy things?''

Glaser and Timothy Watkins, the federal defender representing Chase, want US District Judge Nancy Gertner to throw out most of the evidence seized from the North End apartment, arguing that Chase was misled when she agreed to the search.

Police originally arrested Felton and Chase for passing counterfeit money at a Dunkin' Donuts in East Boston. Investigators from the Secret Service, the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the FBI then found a timing and heating device, bomb-making plans, and hate literature in their apartment.

They also learned that the week before his arrest, Felton had purchased a 50-pound bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the same material Timothy McVeigh used to make the bomb that exploded in Oklahoma City.

Felton had been released three months earlier from a New Jersey prison where he was serving a sentence for attempted murder. Chase had no prior criminal record.

At the trial scheduled to begin July 8, prosecutors want to submit letters and documents they say prove Felton hoped to attack a Jewish or African-American landmark.

''Felton had formed a terrorist 'cell' with persons both in prison and out who shared the same violent, white supremacist goals of committing crimes, such as bombing directed against Jewish and black institutions, to serve as a catalyst for a race war,'' Merritt argued in a court filing. ''Proving Felton's intent in making a destructive device is an important aspect of the crime charged.''

During a second search of the Salem Street apartment, investigators found a coffee maker with the timer removed and books about mounting violent attacks, such as ''Wide Open to Terrorism.'' Investigators also found a ''passport'' from the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., which ATF Agent David Oliver said ''might be evidence that someone who wants to bomb the Jewish Holocaust Museum had been there.''

The detailed storyboard found among letters and other papers in the bedroom Felton and Chase shared tells a chilling story of a man leaving prison after swearing to cleanse America of ''parasites.''

''I propose that we stand up like White men and fight,'' the character named Eric tells another inmate in the cartoon. After his release, ''Eric'' bombs the offices of the Anti-Defamation League and the Washington Post in the nation's capital, and then detonates poison gas bombs containing the lethal biological agent ricin in a Chicago housing project, killing 850.

The document that prosecutors called a ''plan'' then describes a racial battle spreading across America, leading to martial law and the establishment of a segregated ''New Order.''

Felton sat impassively as a federal agent read aloud the tale of terrorism and race war. Felton's head was shaved, with the words ''SKIN HEAD'' tattooed in gothic lettering on his scalp.

Defense lawyers argued for much of yesterday's hearing that Chase did not understand her rights when she agreed to let federal agents into her apartment, and when she told them she had asked a friend to dispose of a handgun she owned along with the fertilizer Felton had purchased.

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