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Counterfeiters of Reputed Neo-Nazi Group Get 20 Years

March 14, 1986

SEATTLE (AP) _ The chief counterfeiter of the Nazi-like group The Order and his wife were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Friday for their roles in the organization.

Robert and Sharon Merki were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Walter McGovern to 20 years each for racketeering.

In addition, Merki was given 10 years and Mrs. Merki five more years stemming from a counterfeiting case before they became involved in the white supremacist group.

The Merkis were among 23 members of The Order indicted last April in Seattle on racketeering charges in a crime campaign in 1983 and 1984. Prosecutors said Order members staged two murders, more than $4 million in robberies, counterfeiting and other crimes.

Both Merkis pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and Merki testified in the federal trial of 10 other people indicted. They were convicted in December.

In a brief statement before he was sentenced, Merki expressed his ″sincere regret″ for participating in The Order. He said he joined the group as one way out of his family’s financial troubles.

Mrs. Merki also attempted to give a statement, but broke down in tears. Her lawyer, Terry Kellogg, said she also regretted her role in The Order and had ″no animosity″ toward the government or the FBI.

The Merkis were arrested December 7, 1984, on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, shortly before FBI agents engaged in a shootout with Order founder Robert Mathews. He died a day later when a flare ignited his hideout.

Merki testified in the racketeering trial that he printed fake $10 bills and numerous false IDs for the sect. He told how he dressed as a woman and drove a ″signal car″ in the sect’s biggest robbery - the July 19, 1984, robbery of an armored car near Ukiah, Calif., in which $3.6 million was taken.

03-14-86 1544EST

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