PHOENIX – A federal trial began Tuesday for two white supremacist brothers from Illinois charged in a 2004 bombing that injured a black city official in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale.
Twin brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon were arrested in June 2009 after a five-year undercover operation in which federal investigators recruited an attractive woman about 20 years younger than the Mahons to work as an informant, according to court records.
The trial for the 61-year-old brothers had been delayed several times because of the extensive amount of evidence in their case.
They pleaded not guilty in the Feb. 26, 2004, bombing in which a package detonated in the hands of Don Logan, Scottsdale's diversity director at the time. The package injured Logan's hand and arm and hurt a secretary.
The brothers are charged with conspiracy to damage buildings and property by means of explosive, and Dennis Mahon also is charged with malicious damage of a building by means of explosive and distribution of information related to explosives.
Jury selection is expected to take Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday. Opening statements are scheduled for Thursday morning, and the trial is expected to last about two months.
Judge David Campbell ordered the case to proceed Tuesday over the objection of defense attorneys who said they needed another week to prepare. The Mahons, dressed in suits, sat quietly as U.S. Marshals stood close by.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators had the woman, identified in court records as civilian Rebecca Williams, stay in a trailer at a campground in Catoosa, Okla. She struck up a friendship with the Mahons by displaying the Confederate flag, dressing in tank tops and shorts and talking about a fictitious plan to hurt a child molester that she knew.
Williams also gave the Mahons at least two racy photos — one that showed her in a leather jacket, fishnet stockings and a thong that completely exposed her buttocks, along with a note that said, "Thought you'd love the butt shot." The other showed her in a revealing white bikini top with a grenade hanging between her breasts as Williams posed in front of a pickup truck and a swastika.
Court records say the plan worked, and that Dennis Mahon opened up to her, showed her how to make bombs and bragged about bombing a Jewish community center, an Internal Revenue Service building, an immigration facility, and an abortion clinic. Those claims have not been corroborated.
He also talked to her about the Scottsdale bombing, telling her that he didn't do it but convinced white police officers to do it.
While discussing the Scottsdale bombing, court records indicate that Dennis Mahon said: "I just wanted to teach (Logan) a lesson the first time."
Dennis Mahon also is accused of making a call to the diversity office in September 2003 and saying, "the white Aryan resistance is growing in Scottsdale. There's a few white people who are standing up."
Mahon's defense attorney, Milagros Cisneros, argued that Mahon "often makes exaggerated self-aggrandizing claims" that aren't true, that he was an alcoholic who constantly was drinking Everclear, and that his statements to Williams were just meant to impress her.
She and the other defense attorneys in the case tried to get some of the charges thrown out based on what they argued was "outrageous government conduct" in the case that amounted to entrapment and coercion.
Prosecutors pointed out that Williams never kissed or had sex with either brother.
Campbell agreed with the prosecution in an October 2010 ruling, saying that although Dennis Mahon "developed a strong physical and emotional attraction to her," their relationship did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation that warranted dismissing charges.
In a letter filed as evidence in federal court, Dennis Mahon wrote that he led the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from 1987 to 1991 and that brother Daniel was never a member of the group, only a "small money supporter."
In a 2007 interview with a National Geographic reporter, Dennis Mahon expressed his anti-government views, saying that "it's going to take violence" and praising Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh.
"They (the government) only understand the rich and the powerful, but they also understand Tim McVeigh and guys that know how to be violent in the right way to get the job done," he said.
He also said violence was a way to get the attention of whites, warning that Mexicans were taking over the Southwest and black people were taking over the South.
Authorities said they found assault weapons, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and white supremacist material in the Mahons' home when they were arrested.
Logan has denied requests to speak about the case but spoke in court during a hearing for Daniel Mahon shortly after his arrest.
"This individual represents hate, and that hate is a danger to the community," Logan said as he pointedly looked Mahon in the eye. "That someone would come to Arizona and launch an attack simply because my skin color is different from theirs, simply because of hate ... is unconscionable."
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