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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Bill White freed, going to Maryland for now (USA)

Free after more than two years in prison, William A. White will not be coming home to Roanoke, where he built a real estate business and a neo-Nazi organization before falling victim to his own hateful words.

White plans to live with his parents in Maryland -- at least for the time being, his attorney said Wednesday.

After a judge's decision to throw out a jury verdict that would have subjected him to more prison time, White was released about 11 a.m. Wednesday from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

The leader of a now-defunct hate group, White has spent two and a half years locked up on charges of threatening, intimidating and encouraging violence against blacks, Jews and others he believed worthy of a white supremacist's wrath.

White seems to have little to return to in Roanoke.

The American National Socialist Workers Party, a neo-Nazi group he founded, is no more, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. And the rental home business that White ran in the West End neighborhood has fallen victim to bankruptcy.

Still, White will have to come to Roanoke at least temporarily to visit probation officers as part of his three years of supervised release after his incarceration.

"At some point, he will be arriving in Roanoke, it appears," said Mike Price, a senior probation officer who is responsible for supervising the 33-year-old.

It's possible that White could ask that his probation be transferred to Maryland, where he will be living with his parents in their suburban Montgomery County home. Price declined to say if such a request has been made.

Nishay Sanan, a Chicago lawyer who represented White on his most recent charges, said his client already is making plans to meet with probation officials in Maryland.

White -- once described as one of the loudest and most obnoxious neo-Nazi leaders in America by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- walked free Wednesday on the orders of U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman.

His mother and wife were waiting to take him back to Maryland, Sanan said.

The previous day, Adelman ruled that a Chicago jury was wrong when it convicted White in January of using his website to encourage violence against the foreman of a jury that convicted a fellow white supremacist years ago.

White's behavior in that case mirrored his actions in many others: He publicized his target's home address and telephone numbers, injected some inflammatory rhetoric meant to appeal to his racist website's followers, but never made a direct threat against the juror.

In fighting the Chicago charge and seven similar ones in Roanoke, White sought protection from the First Amendment. More often than not, his defense worked.

But in the end, White's organization fell apart after he was sent to prison on the three charges for which a Roanoke jury ruled his actions crossed the line between free speech and criminal activity.

Now that he's out, White must refrain from using one of his favorite weapons.

As a condition of his probation, White is forbidden from participating in "any Internet related business or hobby involving a website, and the posting of any information on any website."

Brenda Hale, who White once deemed "a n----- in need of lynching" for her vigilance against him as president of the Roanoke chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she expects White to eventually go back to his old ways.

Yet in a letter to The Roanoke Times, written while he was in prison, White said he planned to withdraw from the white supremacy movement and keep his website dark upon his release.

"I do not intend to recant my views," he wrote, "even if I will quiet them."