Self-proclaimed white supremacist August Kreis III, 56, pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying to Veterans Administration officials to get pension money he was not entitled to, prosecutors said.
He could face five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Carolina said in a statement.
Kreis, a onetime resident of Lexington County, served for nine months in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Despite the short time of service and early discharge, Kreis was receiving what’s called an “improved pension” because of demonstrated need and because he served during wartime. A condition of the augmented pension program requires recipients to report all outside income.
Because of widely publicized comments made after the 9-11 attacks that he and his followers wished to join Al-Queda in its jihad against the U.S. government, he came under the scrutiny of federal law enforcement.
“Mr. Kreis has the first amendment right to make whatever statements he wants,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean Eilchelberger said. But it’s also fair to say that Kreis’ statements raised concerns about violations of federal law which resulted in increased scrutiny and a financial review, he added.
During an examination of his financial records to investigate whether he had given material support to al- Queda, officials discovered more than $33,000 in unreported income in 2005.
Kreis was arrested in Tennessee earlier this summer. He will be sentenced by U.S. District Joseph F. Anderson Jr. at a future date. Eichelberger said the U.S. Attorney’s office has agreed not to seek the maximum penalty because of Kreis’ health. Kreis is wheelchair bound and suffers from diabetes.
Kreis is well known to organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which follows white supremacist groups in the United States. They describe Kreis as a “hot-tempered, longtime white supremacist and Christian Identity minister” who “heads one of a handful of competing splinter factions of the once-mighty Aryan Nations.”