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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Man guilty of threats to family of White (USA)

A Baltimore man who claimed to be part of the Aryan Brotherhood pleaded guilty Monday to threatening the wife and daughter of jailed neo-Nazi leader William A. White.

Timothy Grant Bland, 45, admitted in federal court in Roanoke to sending a threat via interstate commerce, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Bland was allowed to stay free on $35,000 bond. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Bland said in court that he was angered by what he interpreted as harassing statements White had made in December, when White was on trial for making racist threats. White, now serving a two-and-a-half-year prison term, faced the same charge as Bland, after calling or writing to people involved in race-related controversies -- or even just his personal finances -- around the country.

Bland was subpoenaed as a prosecution witness in White's trial, but was not called to testify. The object of his threats, Meghan White, was subpoenaed as a potential witness in her husband's defense, but did not testify.

Tim Heaphy, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, described Bland's threats as witness intimidation.

"We will do all we can to protect witnesses, in part by prosecuting anyone who subjects them with this kind of intimidation," Heaphy said in a statement Monday.

On Dec. 20, two days after a federal jury found William A. White guilty, Bland made a series of profanity-laced phone calls to Meghan White, saying he was coming to shoot her and her infant daughter, prosecutors said.

"You're a disgrace," Bland said in one of the calls, according to the U.S. attorney's office. "Aryan Brotherhood is coming for you."

The Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist prison gang. William A. White was commander of a now-defunct neo-Nazi organization in Roanoke.

In subsequent phone calls to Meghan White, Bland said he was on his way to Roanoke, then that he was in Roanoke, prosecutors said.

U.S. attorney's office spokesman Brian McGinn said Bland also text-messaged Meghan White a picture of his genitals.

Meghan White was terrified by the calls, McGinn said. She soon moved in with relatives, he said.

When authorities tracked down Bland, the text message picture of his genitals was still on his phone, McGinn said. Bland acknowledged the picture was of him, but said he did not remember sending it, McGinn said. Bland did not deny calling Meghan White, McGinn said.

Bland claimed the incident resulted from a "psychotic episode" triggered by alcohol and medication, McGinn said.

The same night Bland called Meghan White, he phoned 911 in Baltimore and said he was former member of a Nazi organization and that people were trying to kill him, McGinn said.

Though both Bland and Meghan White had been potential witnesses in William A. White's trial, Meghan White said she had never met Bland and did not think her husband had met him either, McGinn said. Prosecutors were not sure what specific remarks by William A. White had angered Bland, he said.

Roanoke attorney David Damico, who represented William A. White, said Bland was expected to testify about contact he'd had with White in neo-Nazi circles.

White, who moved to Roanoke in 2004 and gained notoriety for a website that trumpeted his neo-Nazi ideology -- and his knack for inserting himself into racial controversies across the country -- was convicted in December of threatening people in Missouri, Delaware and Virginia. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

In August, a civil lawsuit in federal court ended in a $545,000 judgment against White. He had been sued by five black women to whom he had sent threatening letters after they became involved in a housing discrimination dispute with their white landlord in Virginia Beach.

White is scheduled to stand trial in Chicago in January on charges of encouraging violence against the foreman of a jury who had convicted a white supremacist there.