Hale held without bond

Prosecutors say details from bodyguard, transcripts show racist encouraged hit

The Associated Press/January 24, 2003
By Mike Ramsey

Hammond, Ind. -- A personal bodyguard to white supremacist Matt Hale has worked with government authorities since 1999 and helped compile evidence that Hale recently solicited the murder of a federal judge in Chicago.

That was among several pieces of new information disclosed Thursday by prosecutors. The material, including transcripts of secretly recorded conversations between Hale and the bodyguard, convinced a magistrate judge that the 31-year-old East Peorian should be kept behind bars without bond until his trial later this year.

Included in the evidence is an e-mail prosecutors say Hale sent to the bodyguard, instructing him to get the home address of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow and three attorneys.

Later, according to prosecutors, Hale asked about the Lefkow address and was told: "I'm working on it. When we get it, we can exterminate the rat."

"Good," Hale was quoted as saying on the tape, which was not played in court. "Whatever you want to do, basically."

Prosecutors also quoted Hale as saying: "You know my position has always been that I'm going to fight within the law, but that information has been provided. If you wish to do anything yourself you can."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Weisman said the government's inside "source" was head of the "White Berets," the security arm of Hale's racist organization, the World Church of the Creator. Identified only as "Tony," the insider has been paid $50,000 by the FBI to help monitor Hale over the past few years, Weisman said.

The World Church of the Creator espouses the superiority of whites over other racial and ethnic groups.

Hale allegedly encouraged the assassination of Lefkow late last year after she ordered him to dissolve his organization's name. Hale had lost a trademark-infringement lawsuit by a similarly named church and was on his way to a Jan. 8 hearing before Lefkow when he was arrested by agents.

According to portions of e-mails and transcripts read in court Thursday, Hale encouraged Lefkow's murder with racially inflammatory tirades to his followers and in one-on-one conversations with the bodyguard.

In one exchange, recorded at Hale's 217 Randolph St. home in East Peoria, which he shared with his father, Hale anticipated being jailed by Lefkow for contempt of court.

"If you get word that something has happened to me, make sure that the world knows about it in a very strong way," he told the bodyguard.

"Any special way?" the bodyguard asked.

"Just use your imagination," Hale was quoted as saying.

In a conversation in mid-December, also in East Peoria, Hale used "guarded language" and insisted he "cannot be part of the plan in any way," Weisman said.

Hale purportedly ended the talk by saying the two were merely "discussing Little League baseball."

The vagueness of some of Hale's comments prompted his federal defender, Matthew Madden, to argue "there is no clear solicitation" of murder in the government's material.

Madden sought to have Hale released and placed in electronic home detention in East Peoria. He indicated Hale's father, retired policeman Russell Hale, would raise about $200,000 in bail money through property mortgages and serve as "third-party custodian."

The elder Hale was grim-faced as he watched the proceedings with his ex-wife, Hale's mother, who put a hand to her mouth and dabbed at tears when her son was led into court by U.S. marshals. Both declined comment afterward.

In arguing against Matt Hale's release, Weisman dug further into the past to argue the defendant has a history of inciting others to violence.

In a June 2000 recording, Hale is said to have spoken in glowing terms about Benjamin Smith, a disciple who went on a two-state shooting spree in July 1999. Smith killed two non-white people and injured nine others before committing suicide.

Hale speculated his protg was angry because a legal ethics panel had rejected Hale's application for a law license. Hale graduated from law school and passed the bar exam but was denied a license because of his beliefs.

"I wish (Smith) hadn't done it in a sense . . . but he made us a household name," Hale was quoted as saying. "That's why I'll always remember him, respect him and appreciate him, you know."

Weisman recounted the FBI's interview with Hale immediately after Smith's rampage. The agency's inside witness began his activities in 1999, the prosecutor said, but it wasn't disclosed in court if they began before or after Smith's highly publicized crimes that summer.

As head of Hale's security detail, the source had frequent occasion to travel with Hale, the "supreme leader" of the World Church of the Creator.

Dressed in a federal prisoner's orange jumpsuit, Hale was attentive as the hourlong detention hearing unfolded at Hammond, Ind.'s federal courthouse. A Hammond-based judge and magistrate are handling the case, which will be heard mostly in nearby Chicago, because Lefkow's colleagues at the Dirksen Federal Building have recused themselves.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich, who denied Hale's pre-trial release, set a series of filing deadlines for prosecutors and defense attorneys. The tentative trial date he set is for July 14.

Hale earlier this month pleaded innocent to a pair of charges - solicitation of murder and obstruction of justice - based on a two-count grand jury indictment. He faces a combined sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted.

Weisman said FBI agents on the day of Hale's arrest confiscated shotguns, rifles and handguns from the organization's headquarters at the Hale home. Still unaccounted for, he said, is a "German military rifle" that Russell Hale said his son owned.

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