Atomwaffen neo-Nazi member sentenced to 16 months in prison
Edmonds TV reporter was targeted by the group
Last updated 12/17/2020 at 10:53am
A 21-year-old Arizona man has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 16 months in prison for his role in a plot to deliver threatening posters to journalists and advocates, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.
One of those journalists was Edmonds resident Chris Ingalls, an investigative reporter for KING-5 News.
Johnny Roman Garza, a member of the terrorist group Atomwaffen, pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to conspiracy to mail threatening communications, to commit stalking, and to interfere with federally protected activities.
Garza is one of four men indicted in February 2020 for their plot to deliver threatening posters to journalists and advocates for minority groups. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour observed that since his guilty plea, Garaz had attempted to educate himself about the minority groups he targeted with hate and work to undo some of the harm he inflicted.
“I appreciate the attention that the FBI and US Attorney have given to this case,” said Ingalls on Dec. 13. “I think the sentence is fair. I hope that Johnny Garza is sincerely the changed young man that his says he is, and can leave the hate and intolerance in the past.”
In imposing the sentence, Coughenour noted the “critically important role that the press has in informing the public.” Prison time was necessary the judge said, “given the severity of this conduct and the horrible impact it had on people that are important in our society.”
The Edmonds Beacon spoke to Ingalls in March, wwwbit.ly/2Kr0y32, after he had reported several times on Atomwaffen's firearms training camps in Washington state.
Ingalls learned of the threats in late January when he was called into the United States Attorney's Office, where he was met by the Assistant U.S. Attorney and two FBI agents.
“I'd probably put about a half dozen stories on the air at that point,” Ingalls said in March. “They told me information about me had surfaced in their investigation into Atomwaffen, which I knew they'd been investigating, and that they thought that I was a target.”
They told him Atomwaffen members could be coming to his house that weekend.
“So that, of course, put a shudder through me,” Ingalls said. “The rest of the conversation was kind of a blur. I knew how dangerous these guys were.”
No Atomwaffen members showed up.
Atomwaffen, which is German for “atomic weapon,” is an extreme organization active in several states, in addition to Washington.
In his plea agreement, Garza admitted that he conspired with the other defendants via an encrypted online chat group to identify journalists and advocates to threaten in retaliation for the victims’ work exposing anti-Semitism.
Defendant Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 21, of Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty in September 2020 and is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 24,. The two leaders of the conspiracy, Kaleb Cole of Montgomery, Texas, and Cameron Brandon Shea of Redmond, are scheduled for trial on March 22.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Tampa, Seattle, Houston, and Phoenix, with assistance from the Seattle Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer, with assistance from National Security Division Trial Attorney David Smith and U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Texas, District of Arizona, and Central District of California.