Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Arrested Aryan Has Food Stand Ties

Two days later, he titled his post “North Idaho five weeks and going …” and said he was working to bring “the mexican taco cart foothold to the attention of the locals here in couer d’alene/Hayden.”

The FBI has arrested a Whitman County man on federal drug charges. Jeremiah Daniel “J.D.” Hop, who describes himself as an anti-race mixing activist on the racist website Vanguard News Network, is accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Investigators are searching Hop’s home near Pullman right now, as well as another property in Whitman County associated with the suspect, said Don Robinson, supervisor for the FBI’s Coeur d’Alene office. Hop, who was arrested this morning, is not a member of the Aryan Nations but is involved in racist circles, Robinson said. Hop, 29, is to appear before a federal magistrate in Spokane Thursday morning/Meghann Cuniff, SR. More here.

Audio experts to testify at Steele trial

A forensic audio examiner with the FBI and a private forensic consultant are expected to be called as prosecution witnesses at Edgar Steele's trial.

David Snyder works for the FBI in Quantico, Va., and has reviewed reports by defense experts regarding the authenticity of audio recordings that reportedly show Steele discussing a plot to murder his wife with hitman-turned FBI informant Larry Fairfax. 

Snyder has been conducting tests on the records and the cording device to rebut defense claims that the recordings are manufactured.

His supervisor, Kenneth Marr, who reviewed and approved Snyder's work, is also listed as a witness in case Snyder can't travel to the trial, which is scheduled to begin with jury selection April 26 in Boise.

Dr. Gina Richardson, of Arlington, Va., also reviewed the recording and prepared transcripts.

“She determined the recordings are true and valid representations of the words spoken by the parties to the conversation,” according court documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. “Her unique expertise may be represented to rebut any claims of Dr. George Papcun or Dennis Walsh that the recordings do not represent a true and valid representation of reality or that they do not accurately reflect the sounds and conversations that actually occurred.”

Richardson, who earned a doctorate in linguistics from Georgetown University, has been a forensic consultant since 1989.

Steele was to undergo a mental health examination last week in Boise at the request of prosecutors.

His wife, Cyndi Steele, said he will not be presenting an insanity defense, rather, Steele's lawyers will argue that he was under the influence of medication and could have been easily influenced and manipulated by Fairfax.

Those expected to testify for the defense include Daryl James Hollingsworth, a Bonner County Jail inmate who recently pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

Hollingsworth may have had contact with Steele and/or Fairfax while in jail.

Read past coverage here.

Feds fight release of Harpham records

Federal authorities want to block the unsealing of court records related to the arrest of domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham.

 In a 13-page response Wednesday to a request by The Spokesman-Review, with support from The Seattle Times and The Associated Press, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Harrington argued against unsealing the documents, citing an ongoing investigation and concerns about pre-trial publicity.

“It is well settled that there are qualified common law and Constitutional rights of access to judicial documents,” Harrington wrote. “The right, however, is not absolute … and the public can be properly denied access if there are compelling reasons for keeping records sealed.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Photos released of MLK bomb suspect

 

 

 

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has released booking photos of Martin Luther King, Jr., bomb suspect Kevin William Harpham.

Capt. John McGrath emailed the photos to mediaThursday night in response to public records requests. The photos show Harpham, 36, after he was booked into the Spokane County Jail on March 9. He was arrested that morning near his property north of Addy, Wash. A second set of photos from the U.S. Marshals Service has not been released.

Harpham has pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment charging him with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device and is being held without bail. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Harpham's father, Cecil Harpham, told The Spokesman-Review that his son was with him the day the backpack bomb was discovered along the panned route of the Unity March on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in downtown Spokane.

Federal investigators say the device was capable of inflicting mass causalities and have called it an act of domestic terrorism.

Kevin Harpham has posted more than 1,000 comments on the racist website Vanguard News Network under the name “Joe Snuffy.”

Grand jury indicts Hells Angels leader

The sergeant at arms of the Washington chapter of the Hells Angels has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Ricky W. Jenks, 33, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after the jury indicted him in U.S. District Court for felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment on Friday and remains in the Spokane County Jail without bond.

Jenks, whose felony convictions include manslaughter, was the only suspect arrested at the clubhouse after investigators found eight firearms. The five other men at the clubhouse during the March 3 raid were from out of town and are not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, prosecutors say.

One of those men, Hells Angel member Jameal A. Hadeed, has claimed ownership of five of the eight firearms, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Another, Travis I. Vanweerdhuizen has claimed ownership of one.

But prosecutors have said four of the five men with Jenks at the clubhouse arrived in Spokane via airplane and did not check firearms.

Prosecutors are refusing to release the affidavit that authorized the search because it “contains material regarding an ongoing investigation,” documents said.

Another Hells Angel arrested March 4, Michael R. Fitzpatrick, 33, was jailed on a marijuana charge but released the next day.

Father: MLK bomb suspect ‘pretty worried’

The father of domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham said he believes his son was set up by someone wanting to pocket the big reward posted by the FBI.

“They put out a reward for $20,000, and one of his slimy friends turned him in for the money,” Cecil Harpham, 68, of Kettle Falls, Wash., said Tuesday. “Now, the government won’t admit it to me, but I happen to know it’s true.”

Harpham, in his first comments to The Spokesman-Review since his son’s March 9 arrest, said it appears federal agents quit trying to solve the case and focused in on his son simply because of his racist Internet postings.

“He’s sad and he’s pretty worried,” said Harpham, who visited with his son Monday at the Spokane County Jail, where he’s being held while awaiting trial on federal charges.

“To detain him for a year, or as long as the feds drag this thing out, that’s got to be … terrible.”

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 22: Grand jury indicts Harpham in MLK bomb case

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

MLK bomb suspect due in court today

A man suspected in the attempted bombing the Unity March on martin Luther King Jr. Day in Spokane is due in court this afternoon.

Kevin W. Harpham, 36, is expected to plead not guilty to charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device at his arraignment today before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but Imbrogno has three hearings scheduled at 1:30 p.m. that may push it back.

Harpham has extensive ties to the white supremacist movement and authored more than 1,000 postings on the racist website Vanguard News Network.

A grand jury indicted him Wednesday.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

‘Ho-Hum Bandit’ may have hit Colo. bank

DENVER (AP) — The FBI believe a bank robber who has held up banks on the West Coast has struck in Colorado.

Authorities have dubbed him the “Ho-Hum Bandit” because of his bland appearance.

The FBI says a man fitting his description held up a Chase Bank in Edgewater, just outside Denver, on Wednesday.

He's described as a white male in his early 30s. He's five-foot-five and weighs about 150 pounds.

The FBI says the “Ho-Hum Bandit” has robbed banks in San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cheyenne, Wyo.

New details emerge on MLK bomb

A “joint intelligence bulletin” issued on the day federal agents raided the Colville-area home of Kevin W. Harpham suggests that the bomb may have included a rocket motor igniter and was made in such a way to focus shrapnel at a specific target. 

The bomb consisted of a steel pipe with a hole drilled at its base.

“The pipe was welded to a roughly cut steel plate,” according to the report, which was posted to a research Web site Wednesday.

The explosive charge was described as black powder, which was contained in a plastic bag.

“While not yet confirmed, the initiator appears similar to a rocket motor igniter,” the report states. “An RMI was used in a crude IED carried by a lone individual who took hostages and threatened employees in the Discovery Channel Building” in Silver Spring, Ma., on Sept. 1, 2010.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 11: MLK bomb suspect wrote on race wars

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

Somali pirate suspects charged w/ piracy

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Thirteen Somalis and a man from Yemen pleaded not guilty to piracy, kidnapping and firearms charges today in the February hijacking of a yacht that left four Americans dead.

They entered their pleas in federal court in Norfolk, where five other men convicted of piracy in a separate case last year had been sentenced to life in prison a day earlier.
 
“There's nothing I know about these charges. I do not admit that I was a pirate,” Mohamud Salad Ali said through an interpreter Tuesday.
 
Each of the men requested a jury trial and all were ordered to remain jailed until then by Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller, who said they are a threat to society and a flight risk.
 
A trial has been set for May 17, although prosecutors want it pushed back because trying such cases is complicated.
 
Pirates have rarely been charged in the U.S. The case against the five Somalis sentenced Monday for attacking the USS Nicholas was the first to go to trial since the Civil War, when a New York jury deadlocked on charges against 13 Southern privateers.
 
If convicted of piracy against the yacht Quest, the 14 men would face mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph DePadilla said several have already confessed their involvement in piracy to the FBI.
 
Prosecutors have said other charges are also possible.
 
The yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle (pictured), were shot to death after they were taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.
 
They were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in recent years. The pirates are typically motivated by the potential for millions of dollars in ransom money.
 
The men who pleaded not guilty Tuesday were all in their 20s or early 30s, though at least two said they weren't sure exactly how old they were.
 
Most said they had little or no education or that it was of little value to them.
 
“I am illiterate,” Mounir Ali, the Yemeni, said through an interpreter who was translating for him through a speaker phone. “I went to school but I did not learn anything.”
 
Several said through an interpreter that they did not understand all of the charges they face, although 22-year-old Ahmed Sala Ali Burale said he did because he is “a wise person.”
 
Each was previously assigned a defense attorney by the court because they couldn't afford them.
 
The government is prosecuting a separate group of Somali defendants for an alleged April 10 attack on the USS Ashland, also off the African coast. A judge in Norfolk dismissed the piracy charge, but the government is appealing. Oral arguments on the definition of piracy are scheduled for March 25.

Feds raid medical pot shops in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal agents with guns drawn raided at least 10 medical marijuana operations across Montana on Monday, the same a day that a bill to repeal the state's medical marijuana law stalled in the Legislature.

Agents near Helena burst into Montana Cannabis' greenhouse, where the company grows more than 1,600 plants for its four stores across the state. The greenhouse runs about half the length of a football field and is packed with marijuana plants that can be seen from U.S. Highway 12.

About 15 workers were inside the warehouse during the morning raid. Montana Cannabis employee Brett Thompson, 30, said he stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and saw agents running up the driveway.

“They came in, guns drawn, got us down on the ground and in cuffs as fast as they could,” Thompson said.

Federal agents detained Thompson and his co-workers in handcuffs outside the greenhouse, where sheriff's deputies and Helena police officers stood guard. Inside, agents in DEA and FBI jackets wearing respirator masks and blue gloves yanked waist-high plants from their pots and hauled them out of sight wrapped in blue tarps.

It was not immediately clear why the raids took place.

A spokeswoman in the U.S. attorney's office in Montana said the federal agents executed search warrants that are under seal. She declined to comment further.

Agencies involved included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Medical marijuana has become a hotly debated issue in Montana, and the Legislature has been debating whether to eliminate the law. The industry has exploded in the last year and reached the point where one out of every 19 households in Montana now has a medical marijuana card.

Montana Cannabis co-owner Christopher Williams (left) told The Associated Press that raids were taking place at his business' four locations. An advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, said at least 10 businesses were raided in six cities across the state.

The DEA and U.S. attorney's office would not confirm how many businesses were raided.

Thompson said they questioned each worker individually and then released them, except for one worker who had an outstanding warrant.

The search warrant allows agents to take the company's computers, data storage, products and plants, Williams said, but he wasn't sure why the raids were taking place. His personal and business bank accounts were also frozen, he said.

A warrant obtained by Americans for Safe Access and signed by U.S. magistrate judge Jeremiah Lynch of Missoula listed 13 items to be seized, including marijuana and hashish, drug paraphernalia, computers and other electronic storage devices, cell phones, firearms, transportation and customer records, transaction records, cash, jewelry and vehicle titles.

The warrant, which was for Big Sky Patient Care of Bozeman, did not say why the items were to be seized.

“It's strictly a political move to stop us from providing medicine to sick people,” Williams said, standing outside the fence at Montana Cannabis.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-6 to reject House Speaker Mike Milburn's House Bill 161, which would repeal the medical marijuana law approved by Montana voters in 2004. Republican Committee Chairman Sen. Terry Murphy said the panel will look into creating a reform bill to tighten regulation of the industry.

Barbara Trego, Williams' mother and another worker at the Montana Cannabis, was at the Capitol for the hearing, said she received word of the raid before the vote. She said some of the people who use the company's marijuana are cancer patients and she feared what would happen to them if the operation shut down.

“We weren't trying to hide anything. Our windows are open. Our door was open,” she said. “We've got patients that could die just by what's happened today.”

The raid caused traffic to slow as people passing by tried to ascertain what was happening. One man in a minivan honked his horn and shouted out the window, “Thank you, Helena Police Department! It's about time!”

Williams said of the 1,680 plants inside the greenhouse near Helena, 480 were flowering plants that produce about 5 ounces of marijuana each. He said he sells an ounce for $190 — meaning approximately $456,000 worth of marijuana was confiscated from that one location.

Who is bomb suspect Kevin Harpham?

He grew up in rural Eastern Washington, played football in high school and worked at a fast-food restaurant as a teen.

 Childhood friends remember him as quiet and normal – far from the angry racist that Kevin William Harpham portrayed himself as in more than 1,000 posts on a hate-themed message board for white supremacists.

But acquaintances later in life recall an eerie loner who unabashedly disparaged other ethnicities and seemed to have big plans. 

A former neighbor in East Wenatchee said Harpham, now accused of attempting to bomb a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Spokane, once laughed at the idea of transporting black people to a desert island and blowing them up.

“I think Kevin was serious,” said Jill Truax. “My son just told me flat out, ‘I think he’s some white supremacist person … think he has an artillery in there.’

“It was like he on a mission or something,” Truax said.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

March 11: MLK bomb suspect wrote on race wars  

MLK Bomb Finders Fired For Troubles

The three men who were hailed as heroes by Spokane’s mayor and police chief for finding a bomb and reporting it to police say they lost their jobs for their actions that day. The three men were employed by Labor Ready and working under contract for the Spokane Public Facilities District on Jan. 17, when they came upon a backpack and discovered the bomb that was placed along the route of the annual march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. The names of the men had been withheld since the incident even as high-profile leaders labeled them heroes. Kevin Twohig, CEO of the district, said they didn’t want to disclose their names until a bomber had been arrested to protect their safety. Twohig released the names on Thursday. They are Mark Steiner, Brandon Klaus and Sherman Welpton/Jonathan Brunt, SR. More here.

Question: What would you like to say to the guy(s) who fired these three heroes?

FBI Arrest Racist In MLK Bomb Try

FBI agents cross the bridge on 12 Mile Road during their investigation of Kevin Harpham earlier today, near Addy, Wash. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

An ex-soldier with ties to the white supremacist movement has been taken into custody in connection with the planting of a backpack bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. march in downtown Spokane, authorities have confirmed. Kevin William Harpham, 36, of Colville, could face life imprisonment on charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device, according to documents on file in U.S. District Court. An initial court appearance is scheduled for this afternoon. Harpham was arrested this morning during a raid at his home near Addy, Wash., by dozens of federal agents who had been assembling in Spokane during the past few days. The Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed that Harpham in 2004 was a member of the National Alliance, which is one of the most visible white supremacist organizations in the nation/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that the alleged suspect is from the Inland Northwest?

2nd man in Hells Angels raid leaves jail

A Hells Angels member arrested on a marijuana charge Thursday in Spokane was released from jail on his own recognizance Friday.

Michael Ryan Fitzpatrick, 33, was booked into jail Thursday on one felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after selling marijuana in a “controlled drug buy” set up by the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force last fall, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The one-paragraph affidavit, signed Thursday by Jeff Barrington, alleges the transaction occurred in October.

Superior Court Judge Michael Price allowed Fitzpatrick to leave jail Friday without posting bail, which pre-trial services recommended and is common in marijuana cases. Fitzpatrick has three felony convictions from several years ago, Price said.

The affidavit contains no information about Fitzpatrick's arrest, which occurred Thursday after federal agents and Spokane police searched the Hells Angels clubhouse at 1308 E. Sprague Ave. Fitzpatrick was not at the club at the time but was arrested at a different location.

 Also arrested was Hells Angels sergeant of arms Ricky W. Jenks, 33.

Jenks remains in jail without bail on a federal charge of felon in possession of a firearm. Investigators say they found six loaded firearms in the clubhouse.

Jenks was among those indicted in 2006 with now imprisoned chapter president Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel (pictured).

Read my full story here.

NYTimes Looks At MLK Day Bomb Try

William Yardley of the New York Times reports today on the fruitless effort by the FBI to find the individual who planted the sophisticated bomb along the Martin Luther King parade route a month ago in Spokane: “Nearly a month after a cleanup crew found the live bomb along the planned route of a large downtown march honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the F.B.I. is investigating the incident as an act of domestic terrorism. And Spokane has cycled from shock to relief to reassessment: have the white supremacists who once struck such fear here in the inland Northwest returned at a new level of dangerousness and sophistication? “We don’t have that kind of intelligence level to make that kind of explosive,” said Shaun Winkler, a Pennsylvania native who recently returned to the region to start a landscaping company and a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.” More here. (SR file photo: A rally in Spokane, Wash., on Jan. 17 before a march to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Most people were unaware of a bomb found along the route until later in the day.)

Question: Izzit just me, or does the New York Times appear to have a propensity for tying all things Inland Northwest to the Aryan Nations and related racist groups? Is that fair?

Mobster fugitive captured in rural Idaho

MARSING, Idaho (AP) — To his neighbors, he was Jay Shaw, the guy with the vaguely New York accent. He was known for fixing computers, buying everything with cash, raising cows and knowing how to handle a gun.

To the FBI, he was a New England mobster who vanished in 1994 after a botched attempt to whack his boss.

On Wednesday, the 42-year-old dark-haired man, dressed in a yellow jumpsuit and his hands cuffed behind his back, strolled into a courtroom in Boise, sat down at a table and spoke calmly to a judge.

“My name is Enrico M. Ponzo,” he said.

After the judge read a long list of charges against him, Ponzo replied: “Not guilty, your honor.”

Ponzo, 42, (pictured in 1994) appeared relaxed during his 40-minute court appearance, at times smiling at a handful of friends nearby and exchanging laughs with his attorney. He told the judge he is originally from Boston.

To the people who knew him in Marsing, a farming and ranching town southwest of Boise, the news about the man they called by his nickname “Jay” for the past decade pushed them to dig deep into their memories for signs of an elaborate hoax.

“It was probably all just fiction,” said rancher Bodie Clapier, 52, (pright) whose family owns about 1,000 acres and lived next door.

Authorities said Ponzo had been living in Marsing under the name Jeffrey Shaw, but they declined to say how the FBI discovered him. During his arrest Monday, agents seized 38 firearms, $15,000 and a 100-ounce bar of either gold or silver.

Ponzo's farm is pictured above.

Click the link below to read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Jessie L. Bonner.

Phone scam targets jury duty absconders

A nationwide identity theft scam is targeting citizens who may have neglected to fulfill their civic duties.

The Grant County Sheriff's Office is warning of a cam that involves a caller telling citizens a warrant has been issued for the their arrest because they failed to respond to a jury duty summons.

The caller requests Social Security numbers and birth dates to verify information.

“Give out your Social Security number and birth date, and bingo, your identity was just stolen,” Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said in a prepared statement.  “When in doubt, don’t reveal your personal information.”

Authorities called the scam “particularly insidious” because it uses intimidation by people pretending they are with the court system.

The fraud has not been reported in Grant County but has surfaced in at least 11 states, including Arizona.

The FBI and the federal court system are also warning about the scam.

Steele’s lawyers hint at defense plan

Two private defense attorneys representing accused North Idaho lawyer Edgar Steele said in documents filed this week that they intend to “introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect.”

That disease or defect has “bearing on (Steele's) guilt or his lack of a knowing or intentional mental state,” according to the document, filed Monday by Steele's attorneys, Robert T. McAllister, of Denver, and Gary Amendola, of Coeur d'Alene.

The document offers a glimpse at a possible defense strategy for Steele, who is accused of hiring a hitman turned FBI informant to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele, and her mother.

Steele faces decades in prison under federal charges that allege he hired a man who affixed a pipe bomb under his wife's SUV.

Prosecutors say they have tape recordings of Steele talking about the plot with the would-be hitman, Larry Fairfax. In one recording, Steele tells Fairfax “to make sure that they were dead after the accident because Edgar Steele did not want to take care of a paraplegic” according to an affidavit prepared by the FBI.

Wesley Hoyt, a lawyer representing Cyndi Steele, has said the federal government is capable of manufacturing Edgar Steele's voice on those tapes. Cyndi Steele is adamant that her husband is innocent and visits him at the Spokane County Jail on a weekly basis.

Steele had been represented by Roger Peven, executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, but U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill approved Steele's request for new counsel during a closed hearing Monday in Coeur d'Alene.

Amendola is a longtime Coeur d'Alene defense attorney who's handled many high-profile cases.

McAllister does not have a license to practice law in Idaho but is licensed in Colorado. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago and Denver from 1976 to 1983 and has been in private practice since.

Editor links ex-Klansman to ‘64 murder

FERRIDAY, La. (AP) — Arthur Leonard Spencer says sure, he made some mistakes back when he was a “snot-nose kid,” like joining the Ku Klux Klan. But murder?

  No, the 71-year-old Spencer says, a small-town weekly paper got it wrong when it reported recently that he may have been involved in burning down a black man's shoe repair shop in 1964 with the owner inside.

“I feel sorry for his family, but I didn't have nothing to do with it,” said Spencer, pictured last August.

  No law enforcement agency has named Spencer as a suspect. But for the dead man's family, still praying for justice 46 years later, it's a welcome if not entirely solid lead.

The allegations were reported by the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, whose editor, Stanley Nelson, has dedicated the past four years of his life to an all-consuming investigation of the blaze that killed 51-year-old Frank Morris. (Morris is pictured above, fourth from right wearing a visor, in front of his shoe repair shop in the 1950s.)

Nelson (right) has written more than 100 stories about the case, culminating in an article that quoted Spencer's estranged son, his ex-wife and her brother as saying the former Klansman confessed to taking part in the crime.

Morris' slaying is one of more than 100 unsolved cases from the civil rights era that the FBI reopened in recent years. But for Nelson, the Morris case was unique, because it happened in his town. He has pledged to solve the crime once and for all.

The motive for the attack is not clear.

By most accounts Morris was well liked around town by both his black and white customers. He was separated or divorced and lived alone in a back room at his shop.

He was not known to be actively involved in the civil rights movement, which made black men targets in those days. And FBI documents indicate at least one witness debunked rumors that Morris had courted white women — a virtual death sentence in that era. Still, just being a successful black businessman with a white clientele and having contact with white women was enough to enrage many people back then.

Others have speculated that Morris may have been targeted for refusing to do shoe repairs for a corrupt sheriff's deputy, who wanted the services for free.

Whatever the case, heavily censored FBI files from the time paint a chilling picture of Morris' death.
Read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Holbrook Mohr by clicking the link below.

Speaker targeted by FBI duped UO, too

A motivational speaker who once worked in Spokane and is now the subject of an FBI investigation was an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon.

William G. Hillar falsely claimed to have earned a doctorate from the university, according to this article from my former college paper, the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Hillar, 66, worked at Inland Northwest Health Services from September 1994 to July 1997. Before that he worked for other Spokane businesses including Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities Co.

It’s what he’s accused of doing afterward that earned him notoriety

Read John Stucke's story here

Racist leader resentenced in Spokane

A white supremacist imprisoned for violating his federal probation was resentenced in Spokane recently after prosecutors acknowledged a language glitch in the original judgment.

Keegan C. Van Tuyl, 28, (left) is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison after he was sentenced to two years in prison - the same sentence handed down a year ago but vacated after Van Tuyl called a probation condition that prohibited him from associating with “Neo-Nazi/white supremacist affiliates unconstitutionally overboard,” according to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals memorandum filed in October.

Federal prosecutors agreed that the judgment “should be changed to explicitly reflect that the condition prohibits association with known neo-Nazi/white supremacist affiliates,” according to the memo.

Van Tuyl, the son of former Central American missionaries, was transferred from federal prison to the jail on Dec. 14 and sentenced again in U.S. District Court in Spokane on Jan. 14.

He's already served three years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm but was rearrested after court officials learned he'd contacted white supremacists and left the state to attend a skinhead meeting in North Idaho in the summer of 2009.

Van Tuyl co-founded two Odinist-skinhead groups, Vangard Kindred and Valhalla-Bound Skinheads, while in prison and recruited members there, according to court testimony.

At Van Tuyl's probation revocation hearing in January 2010, Jacob Wilson, of Coeur d'Alene, described racists activities he, Van Tuyl and other skinheads committed , including maliciously harassing or assaulting African Americans and spraying racist graffiti.

Van Tuyl has been linked to a white supremacist arrested last summer on federal weapons charges, Wayde Lynn Kurt (right).

Spokane- area investigators believes Kurt, a convicted currency counterfeiter, used fraudulent identities to obtain guns and ammunition.

Kurt is considered such a flight risk that the FBI didn't give him a chance to surrender last August - an agent simply ran up and tackled him.

Kurt has pleaded not guilty to weapons charges and is in the Spokane County Jail waiting trial.

We were lucky. Next time we might not be…

 

Good evening, Netizens…

 

We were damned lucky last Monday!

 

Of course, no one publicly made such a statement after a sophisticated bomb was left Monday directly along the path that Martin Luther King Day parade marchers would have been following if a remarkably resourceful group of city employees had not summoned police in time. However, given what little we know of the (a) bomb's construction, or (b) the manner in which it was to be detonated remotely, we can only speculate at the amount of damage, in terms of human injuries and/or deaths that this device would have caused. Once again, depending upon the explosive charge, the bomb could certainly have caused a lot of collateral damage to surrounding businesses.

 

Once you begin to really assess the possibilities one can quickly see just how lucky we were.

 

The only methods of preventing similar incidents such as this from occurring again in the future are  Monday's are constant vigilance and rapid response. If you see something that just “doesn't fit”, such as a backpack or other container sitting unattended, do not assume someone else will report it to authorities.

 

While the FBI is quoted as saying “The confluence of the holiday, the march and the device is inescapable, but we are not at the point where we can draw any particular motive…” I do not believe that coincidences such as Monday's event ever take place without a motive. Had the bomb been detonated during the march, and I believe that was what the bomb's creator had intended, we could easily have lots of dead and injured bodies with wholesale property damage and be no closer than we currently are in resolving who was responsible.

 

We were just lucky someone was vigilant.

 

Dave

FBI: Spokane Bomb ‘Sophisticated’

A bomb left along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade was sophisticated, with a remote detonator and the ability to cause many casualties, an official familiar with the case said Wednesday. The bomb, which was defused without incident on Monday, was the most potentially destructive he had ever seen, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release information about the investigation. “They haven't seen anything like this in this country,” the official said. “This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I've ever seen”/Nicholas K. Geranios, AP. More here.

Question: Is it right to guess about the individual or ideology behind the placement of the potentially lethal bomb in the backpack along the Martin Luther King parade route?

FBI: MLK bomb is ‘domestic terrorism’

 

In what federal authorities are calling an act of “domestic terrorism,” a bomb capable of killing multiple people was discovered along the route of Spokane's martin Luther King, Jr., parade on Monday.

The device was found in a Swiss Army-brand backpack by Spokane city employees, who alerted authorities in time to re-route the annual Unity March.

A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

“It definitely was, by all early analysis, a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties,” said Frank Harrill, the special agent in charge of the Spokane FBI office. “Clearly, the timing and placement of a device – secreted in a backpack – with the Martin Luther King parade is not coincidental. We are doing everything humanly possible to identify the individuals or individual who constructed and placed this device.”  

The backpack and clothing found inside are pictured above.

Sources say the bomb was equipped to detonate by a remote device, such as a car remote or a garage door opener. The bomb apparently also had its own shrapnel that could have caused significant injuries to anyone near the blast.

Read Thomas Clouse's story here.

FBI probing assault at Idaho prison

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The surveillance video from the overhead cameras shows Hanni Elabed being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managing to bang on a prison guard station window, pleading for help. Behind the glass, correctional officers look on, but no one intervenes when Elabed is knocked unconscious.

No one steps into the cellblock when the attacker sits down to rest, and no one stops him when he resumes the beating.

Videos of the attack obtained by The Associated Press show officers watching the beating for several minutes. The footage is a key piece of evidence for critics who claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates or risk being moved to extremely violent units.

On Tuesday, hours after the AP published the video, the top federal prosecutor in Idaho told the AP that the FBI has been investigating whether guards violated the civil rights of inmates at the prison, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America.

The investigation concerns the prison’s rate of violence and covers multiple assaults between inmates, including the attack on Elabed, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said. (Elabed is pictured above in July)

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company is cooperating with federal agents, as it has with other law enforcement overseeing the prisons.

Lawsuits from inmates contend the company denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup “gladiator school” because it is so violent.

The AP initially sought a copy of the videos shot on Jan. 18 from state court, but Idaho 4th District Judge Patrick Owen denied that request. The AP had already obtained a copy and decided to publish the videos after a person familiar with the case verified their authenticity.

The videos show at least three guards watching as Elabed was stomped on a dozen times. At no time during the recorded sequence did anyone try to pull away James Haver, a short, slight man.

About two minutes after Haver stopped the beating of his own accord, the metal cellblock door was unlocked. Haver was handcuffed and Elabed was examined for signs of life. He bled inside his skull and would spend three days in a coma.

CCA, the nation’s largest private prison company, said it was “highly disappointed and deeply concerned” over AP’s decision to release the videos.

“Public release of the video poses an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and ultimately to the public,” the prison company said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story by AP writer Rebecca Boone by clicking the link below.

Militia man guilty in Idaho grenade case

A self-described militia leader pleaded guilty this week to federal gun charges connected to a grenade manufacturing operation at his trailer in Spirit Lake, Idaho.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., 58, discussed bombing local bridges with an undercover federal agent and made threatening statements toward President Barack Obama, leading investigators last July to seize 20,000 ammunition rounds and several firearms from Kimbley’s property, where he and other suspected militia members gathered to construct grenades, according to court documents.

Kimbley, who remains in federal custody, pleaded guilty to Monday to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempt to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 22.

“There was no plea deal,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan.

Past coverage:

Sept. 20: Glenn Beck inspired alleged grenade maker

July 6: Illegal grenade manufacturing uncovered in Spirit Lake

FBI mum on bank robbery suspect

A gunman suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank on Thursday remains in federal custody as investigators probe his possible role in a series of robberies since December.

Federal agents said they had no new information to release about the man, who has not been publicly identified. 

“I think it’s going to be Monday or Tuesday before we see him in court,” Frank Harrill, FBI supervisory senior resident agent, said today.

The FBI has been hunting for a bicycle-riding bank robber believed to be responsible for at least six hold ups since December. (A robbery at Chase Bank in April is pictured.)

The suspect arrested Thursday had a bike, wore a mask and displayed a gun, which is consistent with the other incidents.

“Clearly, there are commonalities,” Harrill said.

A Spokane police sergeant on his way home arrested the suspect, who witnesses say robbed the Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis Ave., just before 4 p.m.

HBO Poll: Steele Wasn’t Framed

  • Tuesday Poll: 136 of 182 (74.73%) respondents said that ex-Aryan Nations attorney Edgar Steele wasn’t framed by the FBI to silence his politically incorrect views in his murder-for-hire case. Only 32 of 182 (17.58%) believe his was set up. 14 voters were undecided.
  • Marano-Sims: Surprisingly, 104 of 150 (69%) respondents said they planned to vote for Democrat Paula Marano in her House District 4 race with Republican Kathy Sims in November. 31 of 182 (31%) respondents said they would vote for Sims.
  • Today’s Poll: Would you support a tax hike to avoid another round of cuts to education like the 7.5% cut in 2010?

Spencer: FBI Doesn’t Entrap, Does It?

Larry Spencer: From (Meghann Cuniff’s) story on Sept 7 “Fairfax has said he attached the pipe bomb to Cyndi Steele’s car in such a way that it wouldn’t explode, but his plea deal calls for him to acknowledge the device had the potential to explode.” Let’s think about this. Why, if the charges are true, would he put a bomb under a car and do so in a way that it couldn’t explode? Unless… He was making a deal with the FBI before this all started and offered to frame Steele in return for them dropping the firearm charges against him … Naw. That would mean the FBI is working some sort of entrapment game, and they just wouldn’t do that. I’m sure they wouldn’t. … Well, I would like to think that they don’t do that anymore. But it they are, look at the bright side, nobody died this time!

Question: Are you surprised that Cyndi Steele is standing by her husband who allegedly was plotting to kill her?