Judge denies bond for accused neo-Nazi in swatting scheme against Virginia church, former Cabinet official

Virginia News
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal magistrate on Friday denied bond to an accused neo-Nazi who prosecutors say schemed to call in bomb threats to targets including a former Cabinet official and a predominantly black church in Virginia.

A lawyer for John C. Denton, 26, of Montgomery, Texas, asked the judge at a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to release Denton to his grandfather’s custody with electronic monitoring and other conditions.

But U.S. Magistrate Theresa Carroll Buchanan denied bond, saying she was “very concerned” about the extensive nature of the conspiracy.

Denton’s grandfather and father, who attended the hearing, declined to comment afterward.

Prosecutors say Denton led a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division. Prosecutors say the group advocates for racial holy war. At least 13 people linked to Atomwaffen Division or an offshoot called Feuerkrieg Division have been charged with crimes in federal court since the group’s formation in 2016. Another two men who were members of Atomwaffen are facing murder charges in state courts.

Denton is accused of conspiring to target then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, and a journalist with the online news outlet ProPublica with bomb threats and other hoax calls designed to gin up a massive police response.

At Friday’s hearing, prosecutor Carina Cuellar offered some new details about the investigation. She said two confidential informants reported that Denton was trading in child pornography. She offered no details except to say that at least one image involved the 16-year-old girlfriend of a white supremacist.

Defense lawyer Andrew Stewart said the allegation was “completely unsubstantiated.”

Cuellar also said that while Denton is no longer a member of Atomwaffen, he was focusing more recently on Siege Culture, which glorifies the work of neo-Nazi James Mason.

Denton was arrested late last month in his Texas home. His roommate, Kaleb Cole, was arrested and charged in a separate conspiracy in Washington state with a conspiracy to harass journalists and others in part by sending them Swastika-laden posters saying “You have been visited by your local Nazis.”

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