Two white supremacists, brothers Jacob Laskey, 25, and Gabriel Laskey, 21, pled guilty in United States District Court to charges of conspiracy to deprive individuals of their civil rights and intentionally damaging religious property.
Jacob Laskey also pled guilty to solicitation to murder witnesses, soliciting a bomb threat against the federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, two counts of obstruction of justice, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Both defendants are self-avowed white supremacists who admitted that they sought to commit acts of violence and destruction against Jews, African-Americans, and members of other ethnic and racial groups, whenever such opportunities arose, with one such attack taking place on October 25, 2002, against Temple Beth Israel located in Eugene.
"Prosecuting individuals who seek to harm others because of their religion, race or national origin is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon and the Department of Justice," stated United States Attorney Karin Immergut.
"We will also aggressively investigate and prosecute those who try to intimidate witnesses from reporting such reprehensible acts to law enforcement."
"As this successful prosecution makes clear, acts of violence and vigilantism targeted at individuals because of their race, religion, or national origin will not be permitted in the United States - they will be aggressively investigated, swiftly prosecuted and firmly punished," stated Wan J . Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
"The Department of Justice is committed to fighting hate and intolerance, as they tear at the very fabric of our great nation, a fabric that is strengthened by its diversity of races, religions and national origins."
According to court documents, including their plea agreements and statements in court, the defendants conspired with co-defendants Gerald Poundstone and Jesse Baker, and a fifth individual to intimidate Jewish attendees at the Temple Beth Israel. The five men traveled to Temple Beth Israel at night in a vehicle driven by Jacob Laskey. They then threw swastika-etched rocks, breaking two stained glass windows at the temple, while 80 members of the temple were inside attending a Jewish religious service.
After throwing the rocks, the men ran to the vehicle and fled the scene. The defendants acknowledged in court that by throwing these rocks, they violated the victims' rights to own, use and occupy religious property free from religious discrimination.
Jacob Laskey admitted that following the attack upon the synagogue, he obstructed justice by seeking to illegally persuade a witness not to appear at an official proceeding concerning the investigation of the incident and to withhold truthful information about the attack against the Temple Beth Israel.
Jacob also admitted intimidating or attempting to intimidate co-conspirator Jesse Baker, between the latter part of 2004 and the early part of 2005, in order to prevent Jesse Baker from communicating information related to defendant's commission of a federal offense to agents of the FBI or the federal grand jury investigating this matter.
In addition, Jacob Laskey admitted soliciting Jesse Baker to kill potential witnesses and to call in a bomb threat to the Federal Courthouse in Eugene, where the grand jury convened to investigate his case.
Regarding the gun charge, Jacob admitted that he had possessed a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun and ammunition after having been convicted of two felony crimes, Assault in the Third Degree and Battery Evincing Racial Prejudice.
Based on their guilty pleas, both Jacob and Gabriel Laskey could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years for the civil rights conspiracy charge and a maximum of 20 years for damaging religious property while using a dangerous weapon.
Jacob also faces a maximum of 20 years on two counts of obstructing justice, a maximum of 20 years for solicitation of murder, a maximum of 5 years for soliciting a bomb threat against the federal courthouse in order to obstruct justice, and a maximum of 10 years for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Each charge also carries a possible fine up to $250,000 and at least 3 years of supervised release.
The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William E. (Bud) Fitzgerald and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Roy Conn, III. The case was investigated by Special Agents from the Eugene Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Jacob Laskey will be sentenced on October 24, 2006 at the United States District Courthouse in Eugene, before Judge Michael R. Hogan, while his brother Gabriel will be sentenced on November 7, 2006.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.