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Lawmen may belond white racist

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[ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 3/13/03 ]
Lawmen may belong to white racist group

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Several members of Georgia law enforcement agencies may belong to a "dangerous" white supremacist group, an FBI agent testified Wednesday he was told by an informant who infiltrated the group.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Thompson's testimony came at a bond hearing for the group's state leader, who is being held on gun charges.

A federal magistrate denied bond to Chester James Doles, 42, a Dahlonega man who authorities say was the Georgia organizer of the National Alliance and a longtime Ku Klux Klan activist.

Doles was charged with being a felon who illegally possessed a number of rifles and handguns.

Thompson, a member of a Joint Terrorism Task Force that had investigated Doles since July 2001, said, "Mr. Doles is a very active member of a group the FBI considers a terrorist group. That group is known commonly in law enforcement as the most dangerous group in the United States."

Thompson testified that William Pierce, who founded the National Alliance and whose book "The Turner Diaries" is believed to have inspired Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, met with Doles in Dahlonega. Thompson said Doles, who has a swastika tattoo on his right hand, picked up Pierce at Hartsfield International Airport.

Thompson also testified that a confidential informant who met with Doles starting in 2001 told authorities Doles bragged of having law enforcement members in his group.

"That shows that Mr. Doles has a support network including law enforcement" members, said Thompson. "You vastly increase the capacity of the network," by having authorities as members. They "can look the other way."

U.S. Magistrate Linda Walker also mentioned the reputed law enforcement connections when denying bond.

"Who better to help you flee or get around law enforcement than law enforcement?" asked Walker.

No names were mentioned in court, and federal authorities declined after the hearing to say whether they believed the claim.

"[The agent] was under oath; he was testifying in good faith to what he was told.," said Special Agent Joe Parris, an FBI spokesman. "We can speculate all day long if what he was told was hyperbole or the gospel truth."

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Buddy Parker said evidence introduced in bond hearings has a lower level of veracity than in a trial. Still, "if someone is lying, then you don't repeat what you know not to be true."

"Clearly, a federal judge relied on that info" as a reason to deny Doles bond, said Parker.

Frank V. Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Police Chiefs Association, said larger departments have rules prohibiting officers from belonging to "subversive groups." But, he said, "it becomes difficult if you don't have a specific policy in place."

The judge discounted defense contentions that Doles was being prosecuted for his involvement with the white supremacist group. She pointed to Doles' 1993 Maryland assault conviction for an attack on a interracial couple and a 1997 burglary conviction in a case in which Doles beat a homeowner.

"It doesn't matter if he's a member of the National Alliance or the National Peacekeeping Association," she said.

Upon leaving the courtroom, Doles asked to hug his wife, Theresa. His request was denied.

Walking out, he looked at his two teenage sons, saying, "You know what's on trial here. Step up to the plate. You boys got to."

His wife replied, "They will."

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