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Bomb suspect pleads not guilty to 10 counts

Peace rally disrupted prior to court session

By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff and Rebecca Duran Globe Correspondent, 6/30/2001

Just before a white supremacist appeared in federal court yesterday for allegedly plotting to blow up the New England Holocaust Memorial or some other Jewish or black landmark, a neo-Nazi crashed a peace rally at the Faneuil Hall memorial, handing out hate literature.

''I have encountered white supremacists many a time,'' Benjamin Jacobs, an Auschwitz survivor, told about 200 people, including religious and political leaders, gathered at the memorial to unite against bigotry and hatred. ''I can assure you they are not going away so easy. We must fight against them.''

Proving Jacobs right, a member of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, handed out fliers warning of race-mixing and ''Jewish propaganda'' to the shocked crowd.

An hour after the rally, Leo V. Felton, 30, a member of the White Order of Thule, was escorted into US District Court in shackles and under heavy guard to face a 10-count indictment charging him with plotting to build a bomb to blow up a Jewish or black landmark.

The words ''skin head'' were tattooed on Felton's shaved head and other tattoos covered his arms, while more on his chest were covered by an orange prison jumpsuit. His neck was bandaged, evidence of a bungled suicide attempt by Felton, who cut an artery in his neck with a prison-issued disposable razor last Sunday at the Plymouth County House of Correction, according to US Marshals.

Standing 6 feet 7 inches tall, Felton appeared gaunt and serious as he looked around the packed courtroom before pleading not guilty to plotting to build a bomb, receiving explosives, gun charges, counterfeiting, and obstruction of justice.

Felton's codefendant, Erica Chase, 21, pleaded not guilty to similar charges last Monday. The couple was living in an apartment on Salem Street in the North End, where they allegedly were in the process of building a bomb.

US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler has ordered both Chase and Felton jailed without bail pending trial.

''In our country you have the right to believe whatever you believe,'' Lenore Glaser, Felton's lawyer, told reporters after the arraignment. ''Even if their ideas are repugnant to you, it is not criminal.''

Glaser said Felton maintains his innocence and ''is not a threat.'' But she declined to comment on Felton's beliefs or his apparent suicide attempt.

The indictment alleges that Felton purchased 50 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that becomes explosive when combined with other materials. Investigators allegedly found a recipe for the mixture, called ANFO, in a notebook in Felton's North End apartment.

Timothy McVeigh used ANFO in the Oklahoma City bombing.

While investigators haven't identified the intended target of the alleged bombing plot, the indictment says that news clippings of an upcoming memorial service at the New England Holocaust Memorial near Faneuil Hall were found in the couple's apartment.

Photographs of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, named for the late Jewish civil rights activist, were also found in the apartment, sources said.

Robert Leikind, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League of New England, said he was initially shocked by the blatant distribution of the fliers at the rally, but added, ''We have hearts that are saying we will not stand for this.''

The Rev. John Borders, of the Morning Star Baptist Church, said that for every one racist, there are 10,000 humanitarians. He directed part of his message directly to Felton.

''Do you honestly believe that by destroying a bridge or a monument you're going to cause us to forget the Holocaust or the middle passage? Never! We will never forget,'' he said.

The Anti-Defamation League announced that it would be distributing parent resource kits on diversity in September, expanding its ''No place for hate'' campaign to 50 communities by the end of the year, and doubling the number of students involved in school peer counseling programs.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 6/30/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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