Judge: Hale must stay in custody; trial delayed

Associated Press/October 31, 2003
By Mike Robinson

Hammond -- A federal judge refused Thursday to release white supremacist Matt Hale on bond and delayed until April his trial on charges of urging followers to kill another federal judge.

"There is no reasonable assurance that the safety of the community will be protected" if Hale is released, U.S. District Judge James Moody said.

Defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin urged Moody to order Hale's release, saying his client had been held under extraordinarily tight security in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since January.

Durkin said Hale's father, retired East Peoria police officer Russell Hale, could post real estate worth as much as $175,000 for his son's bond.

He said the younger Hale could be confined to his father's home without access to a telephone or computer, unable to urge his followers to do anything that might cause trouble.

Federal prosecutors immediately objected. They said Hale had coached his father on what to say before a federal grand jury.

They also say they intercepted a telephone call between the jailed white supremacist and his father. On the tape, the elder Hale is heard to ask how many marshals escort his son to court and how many guns they had.

"That is not a normal conversation," Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Weisman told Moody.

Hale, 31, of East Peoria is charged with soliciting an undercover FBI informant posing as a follower and an actual white supremacist follower to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow.

Prosecutors say Hale was furious with Lefkow for ordering him to stop calling his white supremacist group the World Church of the Creator. An Oregon-based church group has a trademark on that name.

Hale denies he urged violence against Lefkow and says tapes made by the undercover informant show he wanted no part of any violent acts.

The charge that Hale urged an actual follower to harm Lefkow is new. The case had been scheduled to go to trial Nov. 3, but Moody ordered a delay until April 5 to allow attorneys to investigate the new charge.

Meanwhile, Hale said he has exhausted all of his savings in paying for his legal defense and now needs the government to pay for the rest of it.

Durkin and co-counsel Patrick Blegen were appointed to stay on the case, paid by the taxpayers to defend Hale.

Moody has been named to preside over the trial as a visiting judge in Chicago to avoid having one of Lefkow's fellow Chicago judges do so. He is holding the pre-trial hearings in the case in his Hammond courtroom.

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