Crime & Courts

Members of neo-Nazi prison gang in Alaska convicted of murder, kidnapping, conspiracy

Five members of a white supremacist prison gang were found guilty Monday of federal crimes connected with 2017 kidnappings, assaults and a murder in Alaska.

The gang operated both inside and out of correctional facilities, prosecutors say. Their affiliations were marked by tattoos of Nazi and white supremacist symbols.

The U.S. District Court jury in Anchorage deliberated for five days before returning Monday’s verdict in an already complex case stretched out even further by complications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A packed courtroom heard the verdict, which took more than 10 minutes to read given the number of defendants and the extensive list of charges, which included RICO conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, and assault.

At the center of the conspiracy was 45-year-old Filthy Fuhrer, who legally changed his name from Timothy Lobdell and was described as founding and leading the 1488 gang from inside Alaska’s maximum-security prison, Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward.

Fuhrer ordered members of the gang to commit violent kidnappings and assaults in the “free world” outside of prison, prosecutors say.

He was serving a 19-year sentence for attempting to kill an Alaska State Trooper two decades ago. Since he first appeared in court in 2019 in connection with the conspiracy charges, Fuhrer’s hair had grown out enough to cover some of the tattoos on his scalp.

The other men convicted were Roy Naughton, 43; Glen Baldwin, 40; Colter O’Dell, 29; and Craig King, 56, who prosecutors say was part of the Hells Angels and not a formal member of the 1488s.

The group was tried together because their crimes were in furtherance of their common affiliation with 1488, a “violent prison-based gang” organized around neo-Nazi symbols and ideology, lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department said. The name is a composite of “14″ and “88,” both significant numbers in neo-Nazi and white supremacist symbology.

All five men looked stoic at first. But as “guilty” pronouncements trickled out, they began to shift, hunching forward over tented fingers, removing glasses to rub eyes, clenching jaw muscles or staring down at the table. None said anything.

They face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole for the murder, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage.

The most serious of the crimes occurred in 2017 as punishments against members deemed to have tarnished the organization’s standing, prosecutors say.

The goal of that campaign, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney William Taylor, was to “strengthen their organization by getting rid of weaker members and by disciplining members that had made the 1488s look bad to other organizations.”

Prosecutors say two low-level 1488 members were kidnapped and assaulted at Fuhrer’s command in 2017 for tarnishing the gang’s reputation. Part of the punishment involved removal of each victim’s “patch”: a tattoo worn by full gang members made up of an intertwined swastika and Iron Cross.

Later that summer, the defendants abducted 1488 member Michael Staton and brought him to a vacant Wasilla residence, authorities said. “King lined a room with plastic, where he and the 1488 defendants beat and tortured the victim. Baldwin and O’Dell then took the victim out to the woods, shot him, and burned his body.”

According to a 2018 plea agreement by gang member Nicholas Kozorra, a knife “was heated up with a propane torch and the defendant, Baldwin, and King took turns burning Staten’s 1488 ‘patch’ from the ribcage area of his body with a hot knife and blowtorch.”

Prosecutors had asked that Fuhrer be jailed in Washington awaiting trial to remove him from Alaska, where he was imprisoned when his role in the Stanton murder took place and where the group could carry out violence.

Multiple defendants remained out of state after their arrests, though they were housed at the Anchorage Correctional Complex during the trial that began in mid-March.

The 1488s was started around 2010 by prisoners in the Alaska corrections system as well as Alaskan inmates imprisoned in Colorado or Arizona. Though small compared to other prison-based gangs, the group has grown in influence over the years and expanded to more correctional facilities in Alaska.

As laid out by prosecutors, the 1488s maintained an organized system that generated money through drug sales and involved trafficking firearms, extortion, kidnapping, beatings, and witness intimidation. Though explicitly racist, homophobic and antisemitic, the felonies at the heart of the case were carried out against their own members over infractions like stealing drugs and, in one instance, a motorcycle club vest.

“The organization is based on neo-Nazi ideology, white supremacy,” Taylor said. “The particular crimes committed in this case were motivated to strengthen the group’s overall objectives but were not based on racial hatred or protected class of those individual victims.”

Sentencing was set for October but could be moved earlier, according to courtroom discussion after the verdict Monday.

At least one defense attorney said that her client plans to appeal.

“The combination of the charges and defendants was overwhelming,” said Cynthia Franklin, who represented King.

Franklin pointed to issues with pretrial conditions and the government’s decision to jointly charge the defendants.

“Evidence becomes difficult to separate,” she said.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers the military, politics, drugs, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Prior to joining the paper he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.

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