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Hate-crime trial begins in CdA, again

Opening statements are expected today in the trial of three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.

The men were to stand trial last month, but Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared a mistrial after the jury heard a recording of a 911 made by a next-door neighbor, who called the incident “a racist thing.” (Read the story here.)

Selection of a new jury concluded Monday.

Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested Aug. 16 after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”

The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.

Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.

Their lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene.

The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Spokane taco truck attack called hate crime

A man accused of trying to rob a Spokane taco truck owner may have targeted the victim because of his race, new court documents allege.

Michael A. Brewer, 22, has been charged under Washington’s hate-crime law after police say he yelled racial slurs while trying to rob Jonas J. Perez-Lopez at knifepoint last week.

Brewer is to be arraigned on charges of attempted first-degree robbery and malicious harassment April 13 in Spokane County Superior Court. He’s being held at Geiger Corrections Center on $7,500 bail after appearing in court this week.

Charging documents filed Monday accused Brewer of targeting Perez-Lopez because of “his perception of the victim’s race, color, (or) national origin.”

Brewer declined an interview request.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage: Taco seller escapes knife-wielding robber

Mistrial declared in CdA hate-crime case



A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the trial of three Coeur d’Alene brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic family in August.

Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared the mistrial after Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen played a recording of a 911 call made by witness Julie Oliver, a next-door neighbor. Oliver could be heard telling the dispatcher she believed the incident she saw from her kitchen window was “a racist thing,” and that her neighbor, Kenneth Requena, was being threatened.

A new trial for Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) has been scheduled for April 12.

Read the rest of Alison Bogg’s story here

Previous coverage: CdA men deny hate crime allegations

Hate-crime trial to begin in Coeur d’Alene


Three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity will stand trial this week in Kootenai County District Court.

Opening statements are expected today in the trial of Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) who were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.

The men’s lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene. The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested the day of the incident after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”

The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.

Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.

William Tankovich faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Prosecutors amended charges against Ira and Frank Tankovich to declare them habitual offenders, which increases their potential penalty to five years to life in prison.

Read more about the case in this story from December: CdA men deny hate crime allegations

Aryan Nations Moving To Oregon?

Originally published Friday night

Leaders of the Aryan Nations in Idaho say they want to move the headquarters of their white supremacist movement to Grant County. Paul R. Mullet, who called himself national director of the movement, was in John Day this week, looking at property to buy for a new “national compound.” … Mullet, wearing a uniform shirt with a swastika patch on it, said the group’s goal is to create a homeland for white people. … Mullet said his group’s current headquarters is in Athol, Idaho, but it doesn’t have the attributes of a real compound. If they can find the right building in John Day, he said, they will be able to provide barracks and space for training recruits, as well as a place for meetings and gatherings/Scotta Callister, Blue Mountain Eagle. More here.

Question: Anyone going to shed a tear if these guys pull up stakes from Athol and head to John Day, Ore.?

Men deny hate crime allegations






Three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) were indicted by a grand jury under Idaho’s hate crime law.

In court Friday, their lawyers characterized the Aug. 16 incident as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene.

“I can’t see this case surviving a trial,” said Daniel Cooper, public defender for Frank Tankovich. “I just can’t fathom a jury returning a conviction.”

Read my story here.

Hate crime in Nampa leads to federal convictions

Last year on the Fourth of July, three men, shouting racial slurs, ambushed, chased and beat a 24-year-old African-American man as he left a Wal-Mart in Nampa. Now, two of the men have been convicted of hate crime assault by a federal jury in Boise. The third earlier pleaded guilty, and testified against the other two; the two just convicted, Michael Bullard, 22, of Middleton, and Richard Armstrong, 24, of Nampa, face up to 20 years in federal prison for the attack.  “Driven by bigotry and prejudice, the defendants brutally assaulted a young man because of the color of his skin,” said Loretta King, acting Attorney General for the Civil Rights Divison. “We are pleased that a jury of their peers has brought them to justice, as hate crimes have no place in America. The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit such acts of violence to the full extent the law allows.”

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Tom Moss said, “These convictions mean that racial crimes will not be tolerated, not in this country, not on any day.  Idaho, like most other parts of this nation, has had inglorious moments in its past when people endured oppression and criminal acts merely because of their skin color, race, national origin, gender or religion.  We are long past that time.” The two defendants will be sentenced  in October. Click below to read the full news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.