Trial of white supremacist begins

Defense claims witness was planted by FBI

CNN/April 12, 2004

Chicago, Illinois -- A white supremacist leader charged with trying to have a federal judge killed went on trial Monday, with the defense claiming a government informant tried to lure him into the plot.

Defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin told the jury that secret tapes show FBI informant Tony Evola, not Matthew Hale, brought up the possible killing of Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, who was not harmed.

"The only person you'll hear talking about killing a federal judge is Tony Evola -- he's the government's informant," Durkin said.

Durkin said the case shows "how dangerous it is when the government, even with good motives, infiltrates and organization and goes after people for what it thinks they might have done."

Hale, 32, whose organization preached racial holy war, is charged with solicitation to commit murder and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say Hale became furious with the judge in 2002 when she issued an order barring his group from using the name World Church of the Creator. The name is trademarked by an Oregon religious organization.

Federal prosecutor David M. Weisman said that Hale told a follower, Jon Fox, that he wanted Lefkow dead. Fox is expected to be a witness.

The prosecutor said Hale repeatedly led both Evola and Fox to believe that he hoped they would kill the judge, but as a law school graduate himself, he was careful not to get caught on tape saying so.

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