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White Supremacist Leader Guilty of Soliciting Murder

A U.S. District Court jury in Chicago has convicted white supremacist leader Matt Hale for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.

Hale, 32, leader and self-proclaimed "Pontifex Maximus" of the virulently racist and anti-Semitic Creativity Movement (formerly known as the World Church of the Creator), was found guilty on April 26, 2004, of one count of solicitation of murder and three counts of obstruction of justice. He was acquitted of a second count of solicitation of murder.

During the trial, jurors heard recorded conversations of Hale trying to persuade FBI informant Anthony Evola, who acted as Hale's bodyguard, to kill Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow. Jon Fox, a former Hale follower, also testified that Hale asked him to kill the judge who had presided over a trademark infringement case involving Hale's group. Hale's group was ordered by Judge Lefko to stop using its name, to give up its Web addresses, to turn over all printed material bearing its name and to pay a fine of $1,000 for each day it continued to violate the court decision.

Prosecutors also played tapes of Hale laughing about a murderous 1999 shooting spree by a follower, Benjamin Smith, who targeted Jews, African-Americans and Asian-Americans during his rampage. Smith killed two people and wounded nine others before killing himself as police closed in. He had previously been designated by Hale as a "Creator of the Year."

Hale, of East Peoria, Illinois, faces up to 20 years in prison for the solicitation of murder charge and an additional 10 years for each of the three obstruction of justice counts.

As head of the Creativity Movement since 1996, Hale was one of the best-known leaders on the far right. Under his leadership, the group gained publicity for its resurgence and for the violent incidents with which it was associated.

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