Three Supremacists Convicted of Plotting To Bomb Gay Disco
BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ A federal jury Thursday convicted three white supremacists of plotting to firebomb a gay Seattle disco.
The jury convicted Stephen Nelson, 35, of Hayden Lake, Robert Winslow, 29, of Laclede, and Procter James Baker, 58, of Coeur d’Alene, after deliberating three hours Wednesday night and all day Thursday, said Jim Martin of U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan’s office.
During 10 days of testimony from about 50 witnesses, defense attorneys charged FBI informant Rico Renaldo Valentino encouraged the three to take action and even bankrolled them.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Howen rejected that allegation. He played about 100 hours of secret recordings and videotapes of the defendants as they said the back alley of the nightclub would resemble a ″meat grinder″ when the homemade bombs exploded.
The recorded conversations also included profanity-laced talk of blowing up a Jewish synagogue and killing and maiming minorities in the Puget Sound region.
″This is not just some fantasy,″ Howen said Wednesday in his closing argument. ″This is real.″
″We were here because of what they did, not what they talked about,″ Howen said after the ruling. ″They were constructing a device for the purpose of killing, wounding and maiming people.″
The trio is tied to the white separatist Aryan Nations (Church of Jesus Christ, Christian) at Hayden Lake. Rev. Richard Butler, founder of the white- separatist group, testified Valentino displayed lots of money and bravado around the defendants.
Butler earlier beat charges he intended to overthrow the government. He declined to comment after Thursday’s verdict.
Nelson and Winslow face up to 25 years in prison. They were convicted of conspiracy to bomb; knowingly making, receiving or possessing bombs or grenades; carrying firearms in relation to a crime of violence; and crossing state lines to commit a crime.
The two were arrested May 12 near Seattle as they accompanied Valentino in his van containing hidden FBI microphones.
Inside the van, FBI agents found the makings of a firebomb: a one-pound can of smokeless explosive powder, a portion of steel pipe and screw-on end caps, fuse and a propane tank. Also discovered were a loaded shotgun and revolver belonging to Nelson.
Baker was arrested the same night at his Coeur d’Alene home. A search of his Kendrick cabin yielded a partially assembled pipe bomb. He was found guilty of conspiracy and bomb-possession counts, which carries imprisonment of up to 15 years.
Sentencing was set for Jan. 11.
Valentino, a 53-year-old former professional wrestler who once performed as the ″Masked Avenger,″ posed as a tax protester fleeing the Internal Revenue Service to infiltrate the Aryan Nations for 3 1/2 years.