Vol. III, No. 7
31 January 1997




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Friday, 31 January 1997


Prosecutors say the Berks man helped a gang that pulled heists to fund their white supremacist movement.

By John P. Martin

Of The Morning Call.

Federal prosecutors yesterday said Mark Thomas of Longswamp Township helped build a gang of armed robbers that knocked off banks throughout the Midwest to fund their white supremacist, anti-government movement.

A federal grand jury in Philadelphia charged Thomas with conspiracy to commit bank robbery and receiving stolen bank money.

Thomas, its indictment says, "recruited young people at his rob banks and commit other crimes on behalf of the Aryan Republican Army," a name the group chose for itself.

Thomas, the 46-year-old Pennsylvania leader of the Aryan Nations, surrendered with his attorney to the FBI in Allentown around 2p.m. He was jailed last night in LeHigh County Prison after a hearing before U.S. District Magistrate Arnold Rapoport.

Meanwhile, federal agents spent hours yesterday scouring Thomas' Walker Road home for evidence. By evening, they appeared to have removed only a few boxes.


Transcriber's Note: Well, heck yes, they only got a little, they sure as heck gave him long enough to sanitize his records!!! Our vaunted FBI in action once more!


Also arrested yesterday in connection with the case was Michael Brescia, 24, of Philadelphia. He and Thomas became the fifth and sixth defendants linked to the group, dubbed by some the Midwestern Bank Bandits. Of the others charged in the indictment, one is now dead, another convicted, a third on trial, and a fourth testifying for the government.

In an interview about two hours before his surrender, Thomas admitted knowing the defendants but denied any complicity in the crimes. He also tried to paint the government's key witness-- one of the bandits-- as an accomplice in the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Prosecutors denied the accusation.

Thomas' link to the gang energed early last year after agents arrested two suspects, Richard Lee Guthrie and Peter Langan, following a shootout in Ohio.

Guthrie struck a plea bargain and named Scott Stedeford and Kevin McCarthy, both of the Philadelphia area, as accomplices. He also said Thomas had introduced some of the gang members.

The conspiracy detailed yesterday focuses on seven bank robberies between October 1994 and December 1995, though the group is believed to have committed nearly two dozen heists dating to January 1994, and collected more than $250,000.

The indictment charges that Thomas supplied the group with false identification papers and a book "New ID in ZOGLANDIA", that explained how to get fake licenses and ID's. Among separatists and supremacists, ZOG stands for Zionist Occupied Government.

He also allegedly bought a van used in a robbery to lease an Emmaus storage garage for the group, and took from McCarthy's grandmother's house weapons and opther items that might have been evidence in the robberies.

The indictment contends that the bandits passed an unspecified amount of the robbery proceeds to Thomas "to further the goals of the organization and to purchase weapons, and other items necessary for additional bank and armored car robberies.

If convicted, Thomas faces seven years in prison.

The gang has drawn comparisons to The Order, a 1980s crew of Aryan Nations members and others who robbed banks, counterfeited money, murdered three people, and plotted to overthrow the government. The leader, Robert Mathews, died in a 1984 shootout with federal agents.

In his newsletter, The Watchman, Thomas has praised Mathews and encouraged others to follow in his footsteps.

Thomas said he met Guthrie, nicknamed "Wild Bill,", at Aryan Nations headquarters in 1991. McCarthy, 19, was a close friend who had lived at his home in Longswamp. Thomas said he had also met Stedeford.

The indictment alleges that, at a November, 1994 meeting in Arkansas, Thomas introduced McCarthy "as a potential recruit" for the Aryan Republican Army. Thomas recalled such a meeting but insisted the discussion was unrelated to criminal activity.

"I'm innocent," he said.

Guthrie apparently hanged himself in his Kentucky jail cell days after pleading guilty and agreeing to be a government witness last summer. McCarthy then accepted a similar plea bargain and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. (He testified yesterday in Columbus, Ohio, where Langan is being tried for robbery and other charges..)

Stedeford was convicted last fall in Iowa for his role in three robberies and faces a minimum 30-year sentence.


Transcriber's Note: Actually Stedeford was convicted of three separate charges related to the SAME robbery.


Thomas said he was aware of the probe and believed law enforcement officials were trying to lure him from his home in recent days to arrest him. So he called the FBI yesterday and arranged to surrender.

He also called the news media and by midday, as prosecutors in Philadelphia were detailing the indictments at a news conference, Thomas stood in his kitchen juggling several interviews.

"Can you call me back in five minutes?" he asked one caller. "I'm being arrested. Yeah, I'm being indicted for conspiracy."

He said he called the press because he feared agents would raid his house and harm him and his family.

"I was afraid that, if they didn't know the cat was out of the bag, they might try to kill the cat," he said.

Thomas also said he believed McCarthy, a skinhead he once described as a son, was an accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing. He said Guthrie told him as much in July 1995.

"His exact words were: 'Your young Mr. Wizard took out the Murrah Building,'" Thomas said.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Goldman, who represented the government at the Allentown hearing, rolled his eyes but declined comment after hearing Thomas' remarks. And prosecutors in Philadelphia insisted there were no links between the bandits' case or its defendants and the Oklahoma City bombing.

Internet postings and a civil suit by some survivors of the bombings have accused Brescia of being "John Doe #2," the never identified accomplice in the blast.


Transcriber's Note: "Internet postings" indeed!


Thomas appeared before Rapaport wearing a green shirt with his standard black jeans, suspenders and Aryan Nations belt buckle. With him was Reading attorney Peter David Maynard, who said he would represent Thomas only through his bail hearing.

Thomas asked the judge for a court-appointed attorney. He said he is a driver for the Austin Fleet Maintenance Co. in Trexlertown and is paid between $1,000 and $2,000 monthly. He lives on the Walker Road property rent free under an agreement with its owner, Montgomery County developer Donald Neilson.

"Yes, your Honor, I'm indigent," Thomas said.

Rapaport scheduled a bail hearing for 11:30am Tuesday.

Thomas also said he has been subpoenaed to testify in the coming days as a defense witness in Langan's trial in Columbus. It was unclear last night when Thomas would testify.

An ordained Christian Identity minister, Thomas repeatedly has preached for the overthrow of the government and attacked Jews and non-whites. He drew attention two years ago when reports surfaced that skinheads David and Bryan Freeman, the Salisbury Township teens who murdered their parents, had been to Thomas' home.

Thomas said the Freemans might have attended one of his parties, but that he didn't know them.

END of STORY ====================================================================

The John Doe Times
Vol. III, No. 7, Attachment
31 January 1997


Five Held in Midwest Bank Robberies


.c The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 31) - A group of white supremacists robbed Midwestern banks to bankroll their movement, which teaches that people of color are ''mud races'' and gays should be executed, federal prosecutors say.

The five men - including Mark Thomas, a minister in the Christian Identity Movement and leader of the Aryan Nations in Pennsylvania - were charged Thursday with conspiring to rob seven banks in 1994 and 1995.

Three of the men were also charged last year with robbing 22 banks of $250,000 as members of the self-proclaimed ''Mid-Western Bank Bandits,'' also known as the Aryan Republican Army.

The gang's alleged ringleader, Peter Langan, 38, is standing trial in Columbus, Ohio.

Thomas recruited gang members at his home in Macungie, a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, the indictment said.

One recruit, Kevin McCarthy, testified at Langan's trial Thursday that the group robbed banks to spread its beliefs and finance terrorism against the government.

''We believed the government was corrupt and that it was evil,'' said the 19-year-old McCarthy, one of the five charged Thursday.

The name of another suspect, Michael W. Brescia, 24, has surfaced during the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. He once lived with a German citizen whom bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh tried to call 12 days before the attack.

McVeigh's sister, Jennifer, reportedly told the FBI that her brother helped plan some of the Midwest bank robberies and asked her to launder some of the loot. McVeigh's lawyer, Stephen Jones, said McVeigh was only joking.

U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles said Thursday's indictment was not connected to the Oklahoma investigation.

Four of the suspects split proceeds from the robberies and gave some money to Thomas, who planned but did not participate in the heists, Stiles said.

The string of robberies had puzzled authorities.

The robbers, at times dressed like construction workers, zipped in and out of the banks within five minutes. They'd snatch the cash themselves (so tellers couldn't rig the bags with dye bombs), then dash off in cars they had purchased with bogus IDs.

They'd leave smoke grenades and pipe bombs in the bank and in abandoned getaway cars to slow their pursuers. No one was injured in the holdups.

The robbers taunted FBI agents on their tail and one even wore a Santa Claus outfit to a robbery. Another time, they placed a pipe bomb in an Easter basket.

Thomas, 44, surrendered to the FBI in Allentown, while Brescia was arrested outside his house in Philadelphia as he was leaving for work.

The indictment charges that Thomas, Brescia, Langan, McCarthy and Scott William Stedeford, 27, conspired to rob banks in Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin and Iowa from October 1994 to December 1995.

Stedeford was convicted of bank robbery in Iowa and faces a 30-year term. McCarthy has pleaded guilty to three robberies and is expected to plead guilty to six more.

If convicted of the charges in Thursday's indictment, the five men could each get up to five years in prison. Thomas also faces an additional 20 years if convicted of receiving money stolen from banks.

Stedeford, McCarthy and Langan were also charged last year with robbing 22 banks of $250,000.

Thomas' specialty is recruiting young supremacists, said Barry Morrison, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Pennsylvania.

''He has had a string of young people visit and stay at his home where they have been exposed to hate doctrine,'' he said.

Thomas is also head of Christian Posse Comitatus, a branch of Christian Identity, which espouses that Northern European whites are the chosen people, Jews are the ''synagogue of Satan,'' people of color are inferior ''mud races,'' and gays should be executed.

Morrison said Thomas took Brescia to Elohim City, a white separatist religious community in far eastern Oklahoma, where they met Andreas Strassmeir.

McVeigh reportedly tried to call Strassmeir twice in the weeks before the Oklahoma bombing. Strassmeir, who has returned to Germany, has said he met McVeigh in 1993, but has not spoken with him since.

AP-NY-01-31-97 0452EST

Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.

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