Uphold Neo-Nazi’s Conviction
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A federal appeals court Friday upheld the conviction of a member of a neo- Nazi group for trying to arrange the murder of a key witness in a racketeering trial of other group members.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the four felony convictions and 12-year prison sentence of Eldon ″Bud″ Cutler, a resident of northern Idaho.
Cutler is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, also known as Aryan Nations, and was the chief of security for the church’s leader, Richard Butler, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Howen.
He said Cutler also identified himself to a federal agent as a member of the neo-Nazi group called the Order.
Cutler was not a defendant, however, in the Seattle trial in which 22 members of the Order were convicted of racketeering charges involving two murders and several bank robberies, allegedly for the purpose of financing a white-supremacist takeover of the United States.
Authorities said that in the summer of 1985, Cutler paid Thomas Norris, an FBI agent posing as a hit man, $2,000 to kill Thomas Martinez, who was then scheduled to testify for the government in the Seattle racketeering trial.
Howan said Norris later showed Cutler a fake photograph of Martinez with his head cut off. Cutler and Norris then discussed three additional murders, the court said; Howan said the intended targets were two other witnesses and an Idaho undersheriff against whom Cutler had a personal grudge.
Martinez, who testified at the Seattle trial, also testified at the trial in Boise where Cutler was convicted. The jury rejected a defense claim that Cutler had been entrapped by the FBI agent and by Bob Bowyer, a government informant who introduced Cutler to Norris.
In rejecting Cutler’s appeal, the court upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan allowing the prosecution to withhold details of a previous investigation in which criminal charges against Bowyer were dismissed and he was given a cash payment.
Ryan was reasonable in concluding that ″the government’s security interests outweighed Cutler’s need for the information,″ the court said.
The court upheld another Ryan decision to allow evidence about the Order, saying it was relevant to his claim of entrapment, and noting that the judge had told the jury to disregard Cutler’s racial views.
The court also rejected Cutler’s claim that the sentence was excessive. Noting that the maximum sentence for the charges was 30 years, the court said, ″Cutler was convicted of ordering a contract murder to silence government witnesses, a violent and cold-blooded crime. After he thought that one murder was committed, Cutler began to bargain for three more.″