CHICAGO – A white supremacist blogger was arrested at his New Jersey home Wednesday and charged with threatening to assault or murder three Chicago-based judges who refused to overturn local ordinances banning handguns.
Hal Turner, 47, a former Internet radio talk show host, was taken into custody by FBI agents who went to his North Bergen home with a search warrant, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Prosecutors quoted a Turner Internet posting as saying: "Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed."
The posting included a map showing the Everett Dirksen Federal Courthouse, where the three judges are based. It said a map showing the judges' homes would later be added.
The posting also referred to the murder of the mother and husband of Chicago-based federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in February 2005 — a crime that sent shock waves across the nation.
"Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court didn't get the hint after those killings," the posting said. "It appears another lesson is needed."
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald announced the arrest, which stemmed from a complaint filed in federal court in Chicago.
"We take threats to federal judges very seriously — period," he said.
Turner organized a rally of supremacist groups in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2007 and a neo-Nazi rally in Kingston, N.Y., in 2005. Last summer, he ended his Internet radio show that espoused hatred of gays, Jews, blacks and other minorities, but he continues a blog under the heading "Honest talk in a time of universal deceit."
On Monday, Turner was arraigned in a Connecticut court on a charge of encouraging violence against state legislators there. He allegedly told blog readers to "take up arms" against the lawmakers and that government officials should "obey the Constitution or die."
In the latest case, Turner allegedly referred to the three judges who made the handgun ruling as "scum" and said "their blood will replenish the tree of liberty."
The judges, who dismissed a lawsuit by the National Rifle Association seeking to overturn handgun bans in Chicago and suburban Oak Park, ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court should make the decision on the local ordinances.
The judges were identified as Richard Posner, Frank Easterbrook and William Bauer.
Turner was scheduled to appear Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp in federal court in Newark, N.J. The charge of threatening to assault or murder a federal judge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Turner's attorney, Michael Orozco of Newark, said his client was in federal custody Wednesday night. He declined to comment on the charges.
Turner's views have previously drawn scrutiny from federal authorities. The FBI questioned him in the Lefkow slayings because two years earlier he had said on his radio show that the judge "was worthy of being killed," he told The Associated Press in 2005.
White supremacists were initially suspected in the Lefkows' shooting deaths after Matthew Hale, leader of a white supremacist group, was convicted of soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill the judge. But the killer turned out to be a man who was angry that Lefkow had dismissed a medical malpractice suit.