Order Defendant Described As Renegade Within Group
Oct. 08, 1985
SEATTLE (AP) _ Bruce Pierce, accused of killing Denver radio host Alan Berg, was a renegade member of the Nazi-like group called The Order who caused leaders concern over his independent violent activities, a former member has testified.
Robert E. Merki, testifying in the federal racketeering trial of 10 alleged Order members, told Monday of conversations with other Order members in which defendants Pierce and Jean Craig were mentioned as participants in the Berg killing.
Berg was slain with a machine-gun in his driveway on June 18, 1984.
The defendants and 13 others are accused in a racketeering indictment of two murders, including Berg's, robberies that netted more than $4 million and counterfeiting intended to finance a war on Jews, minorities and the U.S. government.
The government claims Pierce was the triggerman in the slaying of Berg, while Order founder Robert Mathews and fugitive Richard Scutari stood lookout and defendant David Lane drove the getaway car. Ms. Craig allegedly spied on Berg before the killing.
Merki said he overheard Mathews and Scutari argue over the split of loot from a $3.6 million robbery and an ''unauthorized'' bombing of a synagogue in Boise, Idaho, allegedly committed by Pierce and defendant Richard Kemp.
Mathews complained about not being able to control Pierce, Merki said.
''He was asking Scutari what was he going to do about Pierce,'' Merki said. ''He had difficulty controlling him and was worried he might go off half- cocked.''
Scutari defended Pierce, Merki said, ''with the remark that he (Pierce) had done such a good job in Denver with Berg.''
Defense attorneys have objected to any mention of the synagogue bombing before the jury, claiming that because it was not authorized by The Order, it could not be considered part of the racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Walter McGovern has not ruled on that issue.
Fred Leatherman, attorney for defendant Randolph Duey, began cross- examinatio n Monday by noting that if Merki had been convicted of all the crimes in which his testimony implicated him, he could have faced up to 245 years in prison.
Instead, Merki pleaded guilty to racketeering and three counts of counterfeiting, in exchange for his testimony and a 30-year prison sentence.
Leatherman also noted that Merki had his 16-year-old son pretend to play basketball while watching armored cars in Boise, Idaho, in preparation for a possible robbery.
Merki also told Monday how Mathews vowed to die a martyr in the cause of white supremacy, ignoring pleas from fellow members to surrender when FBI agents surrounded his Whidbey Island hideout north of Seattle on Dec. 7.
Mathews fired more than 1,000 rounds at authorities before an illumination flare ignited the fire that took his life.
Merki is among 11 of the original 23 defendants to plead guilty. Scutari remains at large and the 23rd is jailed in Missouri on charges of killing a state trooper.