The former Washington state leader of the Aryan Nations, who recruited neo-Nazi skinheads and visited fugitive Randy Weaver, now is a seasonal federal law officer.
Justin F. Dwyer is a park ranger - with the same arrest powers as an FBI agent working six months a year for the National Park Service.
Dwyer, 28, worked last season at Fort Spokane, where he made arrests and wrote misdemeanor tickets.
The popular campground is at the confluence of the Spokane and Columbia rivers in Lincoln County.
“He’s on our rolls, but is not working now,” said Gerry Tays, superintendent of the Coulee Dam National Recreation Area.
Dwyer declined an interview request on Friday, but said he’s no longer involved with the Aryan Nations.
His seasonal job is set to resume in April, but National Park Service officials are not expected to call him back to duty.
Dwyer was a skinhead in the San Francisco Bay area before coming to the Aryan Nations near Hayden Lake, Idaho, in the late 1980s. At the Aryan Youth Congress in 1989, Dwyer wouldn’t give his name and was introduced as “white man” by Aryan leader Richard Butler.
In 1991, Dwyer recruited skinheads in Federal Way in Western Washington and staged a neo-Nazi rally on Whidbey Island for the late Bob Mathews, who led a band of terrorists known as The Order.
While at the Aryan Nations, he also befriended Randy Weaver, who became a federal fugitive in 1991 after failing to show up for trial on a firearms charge.
Dwyer visited Weaver in his mountaintop cabin near Naples, Idaho, just days before a deadly 1992 shootout that left Weaver’s wife and son and a federal marshal dead.
“I’m certainly as shocked as anybody that we have this guy working for us,” Chris Andress, chief ranger for the National Park Service, said Friday from his Washington, D.C., office.
Roger Kennedy, director of the National Park Service, is being briefed on the matter.
Dwyer has no criminal record, and only two traffic tickets in the last four years.
He was hired by Mark Arsenault, then acting district ranger at Fort Spokane.
Tays, Arsenault’s supervisor, said Arsenault followed agency guidelines in checking on Dwyer.
The Park Service is prohibited from asking job applicants about past affiliations with unions and political or religious organizations, Tays said.
“If we’d known then what we know now about him, the National Park Service would have never hired this guy,” Tays said.
The National Park Service this week issued new guidelines changing the way it conducts background checks on seasonal officers.
The changes have nothing to do with Dwyer, Park Service officials said. “We are doing this, obviously, to see what we can do better in the way of background checks,” Andress said.
As a park ranger, Dwyer carried a gun and enforced laws of the federal government he once decried as a “Zionist Occupied Government,” or ZOG.
He lives near Cheney with his wife, the former Elizabeth Bullis, who was a prominent skinhead in Portland in the late 1980s.
Dwyer drives a 1979 Chevy Blazer, painted in camouflage colors. The vehicle bears a bumper sticker: “I love my country, but hate my government.”
He issued a brief statement Friday disavowing his past.
“I’m trying to put the past behind me and (a news story) will only be counterproductive in my new life,” Dwyer said. “I am no longer involved (in Aryan Nations) and haven’t been for several years.”
But as recently as April 1994, Dwyer was at the Aryan Nations.
He and Bullis attended the Aryan Youth conference, commemorating Hitler’s birthday, and were married under a burning Nazi swastika.
Butler recalled marrying the couple and said he spoke with Dwyer just a few months ago.
“He’s working for the Forest Service, or something like that,” Butler said before being told it’s the National Park Service.
The Aryan leader said Dwyer hasn’t formally resigned from the Aryan Nations and is on leave status. Dwyer hasn’t disavowed his racial views “at least to me,” Butler said.
Butler said he isn’t surprised Dwyer now works for the federal government.
“You can’t make any money in the patriotic movement,” he said. “There’s no way he could make a living fighting for the white race, so he had to go to work for ZOG.”
Angela Lowry, an analyst for Klanwatch, said the Aryan Nations last summer launched a “counterintelligence campaign to gather strategic information on government agencies and their employees.”
“A government job with access to sensitive intelligence is a perfect position to do just that,” Lowry said.
Dwyer’s hiring by the National Park Service comes at a time when federal law officers “are under an increasing threat of violence and intimidation from extremists,” she said.
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