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CHICAGO (CBS) — A self-avowed white supremacist who has already served time for a hate crime has been charged with trying to set fire to the home of his Joliet neighbors – an African-American family with eight children.
On Thursday, Brian James Moudry pleaded not guilty to the charges and was assigned a public defender, who happens to be African American. He is being held without bail, after prosecutors called him a danger to the community and a flight risk.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports FBI agents arrested Moudry, 35, on federal arson and civil rights charges for allegedly setting the fire at 4:10 a.m. in June 2007.
An adult and eight children were home when the fire was set. But no one was injured, according to a federal indictment.
“The federal government takes very seriously its responsibilities to protect members of all racial and ethnic groups from intimidation and violence. We appreciate very much the hard work of the agents who pursued this investigation with great tenacity,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a news release.
Moudry was the second man accused of setting the fire. Police apparently arrested the wrong man the first time.
“It’s a delicate situation. We’re not going to comment,” said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
Moudry, of the 300 block of South Reed Street in Joliet, was charged Wednesday with one count each of arson, using fire to interfere with housing rights on the basis of race and using fire to commit another felony in a three-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury last week and unsealed after his arrest.
The arson charge carries a sentence of 5 to 20 years in prison. The charge of interfering with housing rights carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, and the charge of arson while committing another felony carries a mandatory 10-year prison term that must be served consecutively with any other sentence.
Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
According to the indictment, Moudry set fire to a house on the same block where he lived on June 17, 2007.
The family moved after the fire.
But in the fire’s aftermath, a 29-year-old Des Plaines man was charged with arson in Will County criminal court. That man’s case was set to have a jury trial on March 10, 2008, but prosecutors dropped the charges that day.
Moudry, who lived just doors away from the fire, has not been a stranger to controversy. Moudry has a pending weapons case in Will County Circuit Court; he pleaded innocent in April to carrying a firearm and was supposed to return before Judge Marzell Richardson on Tuesday, according to the docket
In 2005, he was interviewed on http://www.rockmetalbands.com about a Hatemonger Warzine, which he edited and self-published at that time. Calling himself the editor “Rev. Brian ‘Warhead von Jewgrinder’ Moudry,” he wrote that he was half Irish, half Czech and had been involved in the White Power movement since he was about 17 or 18. Moudry grew up in the Marquette Park neighborhood in Chicago, a community that saw race riots in the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote.
He also said in the interview that he had been involved with the World Church of the Creator, an infamous white supremacist group led by neo-Nazi Matt Hale. Among the other members of the organization Benjamin Smith – the man who shot and wounded nine Orthodox Jews in the West Rogers Park neighborhood and an African-American minister in Decatur; shot and killed Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, who was African-American, outside his Skokie home; and shot and killed Korean doctoral student Woon-Joon Yoon in Bloomington, Ind., before shooting himself dead on July 4, 1999.
Hale himself is now serving a 40-year prison sentence for soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow.
Moudry spent time in jail after a 1999 arrest in New Lenox on aggravated assault and hate crime charges, accused of fighting with two black men. Court records show he was convicted of the hate crime and was sentenced to about three months in jail and another two years’ probation.
Moudry has led white power demonstrations in recent years. His house was hit by drive-by gunfire after a 2004 rally.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)