Fla. Supremacists Held in Bomb Plot
May. 08, 1998
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Three people linked to a white supremacist bomb maker were charged with plotting a series of paralyzing bombings across this tourist center as diversions for bank holdups, federal investigators said today.
Bombing targets were along two major routes: Interstate 4, the major highway to Walt Disney World, and U.S. Highway 441.
Tampa bank security guard Brian Pickett, 38, Christopher Norris, 25, and Deena Wanzie, 46, were charged Thursday with conspiracy, bank robbery, explosives and weapons violations. Pickett and Wanzie were expected to appear in court today, while Norris is scheduled to surrender to authorities.
``They were going to set off 14 bombs in the Orlando area as a diversion for them to commit two bank robberies,'' said Mike Hegerfeld of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Orlando.
The three were accused of working with Todd Vanbiber, 29, a white supremacist injured in an accidental blast as he was assembling a pipe bomb in April 1997. On the night of the explosion, he was supposed to meet with Pickett, Norris and a man cooperating with investigators to finalize their plot, according to federal court papers.
Vanbiber, who is cooperating with authorities, is serving 6 1/2 years in federal prison for possession of explosives. A cellmate told investigators that Vanbiber wanted to target blacks by planting bombs at a Fourth of July celebration in Orlando and at Independence Day parties involving federal employees.
Vanbiber and Pickett were members of the National Alliance, described by civil rights groups as a racist, neo-Nazi organization.
Its leader, William Pierce of Hillsboro, W.Va., wrote ``The Turner Diaries,'' which prosecutors have called a blueprint used in plotting the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.
Vanbiber originally planned the robberies for April 19, the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the federal court complaint said.
Vanbiber and Pickett robbed banks in Tampa and Danbury, Conn., in 1996, ATF agent William Crummett wrote in a court affidavit. Vanbiber, Pickett and Norris also plotted to rob two Orlando-area banks in April 1997, he said.
Pickett is accused of stealing vehicles used in earlier bank robberies and providing digital clocks, gunpowder and black powder for Vanbiber's pipe bombs.
Wanzie was accused of concealing evidence by keeping assault firearms and ammunition at her home, which she shared with Vanbiber.