Table of Contents


There can be no question that faked anti-Semitic hate crimes are a cause for grief and consternation in the Jewish community. Jewish concern with persecution is justifiable. Deep-rooted Jewish sensitivity to anti-Semitism makes hoaxes committed by Jews particularly shocking. These hoaxes are almost always the product of individuals seeking to achieve a sense of importance through victimhood, to advance a particular agenda, to seek monetary advantages through insurance claims or damage settlements, or perhaps more commonly, juveniles engaged in pranks. One issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not there’s an organized campaign to commit racist and anti-Semitic hoaxes. For years rumors have circulated that a particular organization has been engaged in this activity. Right-wingers are particularly fond of this notion in that it tends to confirm their conspiracy theories about the group. It’s important to avoid paranoid thinking on this issue, and to reject the kind of reasoning that suggests that every disturbing event must have a i"plot" of some kind behind it, and a series of such events must, therefore, be the product of a planned conspiracy. .Extremists on both sides of this issue tend to think in these terms with predictably unfortunate results. I found no credible evidence of a bona fide conspiracy or organized campaign to commit anti-Semitic hoaxes. The best evidence is that these hoax incidents are unconnected and the product of individuals and not of organizations. I don’t think a conspiracy is required to explain a pattern of antiSemitic hoaxes. In addition to the psychological pleasures of victimhood, the advantages of anti-Semitic incidents to Jewish activists are obvious, so much so that it would reasonably occur to potential hoaxers upon simple reflection, with no communication among them. "Who benefits" from mindless acts of anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism is there for all to see, and it is most assuredly not anti-Semites. Some hoaxes have involved "plots," in a manner of speaking, and several of them have involved recognizable "conspiracies" to commit the particular hoax, but linkage with other hoaxes is very unlikely, except in the limited psychological sense of the "copy-cat" phenomenon. This "copy-cat" effect is important, however, because it can account for not only bona fide racial and anti-Semitic incidents, but for additional hoaxes as well. On the other hand, there is some evidence of a deliberate effort to cover up or minimize incidents that prove to be hoaxes, usually to avoid "giving anti-Semites ammunition," in the words of one journalist. I have encountered several cases where the news coverage of an incident was explicitly minimized once it was discovered to be a hoax. This, of course, is what is known as "spin control" and some anti-racist and "human rights" groups are pretty good at it. The number of publicized hoaxes, such as those documented in this report, is undoubtably only a small fraction of those that actually occur. C A S E S The Anti Defamation League itself may have been party to a significant misrepresentation on the cover of a 1985 issue of the ADL bulletin where a cover photograph designated "Desecration of a Jewish home in Kings Point, NY" was clearly a fake. The swastika depicted does not follow the contours of the paneled door and appears to stand out and away from it. It was painted onto a photo or a transparency and then rephotographed. The issue of the bulletin also featured a major article entitled, "Anti-Semitic vandalism: 2-Year Trend Reversed.". The article noted that California, with a population of 23,000,000 had experienced 99 incidents in 1984, or one incident per 230,000 citizens. In February 1994, the ADL was involved in a major hoax controversy when Donald Mintz, a member of the ADL’s National Commission and candidate for. Mayor of New 0rteans, was accused of creating and distributing openly racist and anti-Semitic fliers in order to create sympathy for his candidacy and raise funds for the election. The New York Times reported that "A main Mintz advisor has been charged with a misdemeanor count accusing him of trying to distribute some of the fliers..." An investigation by the (New Orleans) Human Relations Commission issued a preliminary report concluding that at least two of the fliers ’originated in the Mintz campaign.’ Mintz "vigorously denied" that he or anyone in his campaign was responsible for the fliers. He conceded, however, that his campaign had mailed thousands of the fliers to Jews throughout the nation in a fund-raising effort. Bob Tucker, campaign manager for Mintz’s opponent, Ernest Moria], said "Mr. Mintz self-inflicted a racial wound where there was none, and he did it to raise funds nationally."3 Mintz subsequently lost the election Laurie A. Recht, 35, a legal secretary, vigorously supported court-ordered desegregation in Yonkers, New York, at a City council meeting in January 1988. She was heckled and booed by many of the 800 people attending the meeting. A few days Tater Recht, who is Jewish, began reporting death threats. As a consequence of wide media coverage of her alleged victimization, Recht became a media heroine for her courage and determination in the face of racist attacks. In May 1988 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the College of New Rochette in recognition of her victimization. She told friends that she had received encouragement and support from all over and had even been offered a scholarship to attend Law School at Touro College. Ms. Recht became a very important Lady. The Anti-Defamation League had been in the forefront in support of Ms. Recht. In November 1988 she once again reported a death threat on the telephone, and claimed to have found racist and anti-Semitic graffiti near her apartment door. It read "Nigger Lover, Jew / We haven’t Forgot you / We will show the world our cause with your corpse / a bullet waits for you." Unbeknown to Ms. Recht the F.B.I. had installed a TV camera outside her apartment and attached security equipment to her telephone line to catch the perpetrators. The equipment showed that no threatening calls had been received, and the hidden camera recorded Ms. Recht writing the racist and antiSemitic threat on the wall next to her own apartment. Recht admitted in court to lying to FBI agents. She faced a potential sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Instead she received 5 years probation, no jail time, no fine. A November 24, 1985 Associated Press dispatch from New York City reported, "Vandals threw rocks through windows of eight Jewish-owned shops... Mayor Edward Koch said the city would offer $10,000 reward..." The Jewish Community Relations Council offered a $5,000 reward as well. The windows were broken in the predominantly Orthodox Jewish areas of Boro Park and Flatbush in Brooklyn. Two weeks Tater, windows in another seven stores were broken in the enclave of 100,000 orthodox Jews and 300 synagogues. Newspapers around the nation reacted with shock and outrage and compared the incident to Kristallnacht, when Nazis terrorized Jews in pre-World War II Germany, even though no swastikas or anti-Semitic graffiti were found on the buildings. Pressure from the Jewish Community brought increased police patrols and calls for greater vigilance against anti-Semitism, although no anti-Semitism had been proven. Nine of the twelve detectives in the police department’s "bias" unit had been assigned to the case. Within two weeks Mordechai Levy, leader of the Jewish Defense Organization, a militant Zionist group with a reputation gar terrorism, announced that his followers were organizing night patrols. However, on December 9, the mystery was solved. According to press reports: "A 38-year-old Jewish man with a history of psychological problems was arrested in connection with the smashing of as windows of Jewish-owned shops in the Borough Park and Flatbush sections of Brooklyn." Police had arrested Gary Dworkin, who lived nearby -- on 43rd St in, Brooklyn. He was subsequently charged with 13 counts of criminal mischief, some of which were felonies, including one count of discrimination. Media accounts emphasized his "emotional instability," implying that that was the reason for his behavior. Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman issued statement that his vandalism was directed at Israelis and Hasidic Jews. In February 1979 one "Michael James Guttman" applied for a permit to hold a neo-Nazi rally in the shadow of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Guttman claimed the National Socialist White People’s Party would provide its own protection if police didn’t. The application, reported in the Philadelphia Daily News, created a enormous stir in the cityâ s Jewish community, one of the largest in the nation. According to the News, the application stated that signs reading "Hitler Was Right" and "Gas Commie Jews" would be shown, and that the avowed purpose of the rally was to "show the world niggers and Jews are cowards." The News also reported that "The Jewish Defense League had announced last week that it would meet force with force." Two days later the Park Service rescinded the permit. "According to the terms of an agreement reached with attorneys representing survivors of the Holocaust who had challenged the permit in a Federal court hearing here, the permit was withdrawn when the man who received it, identified as James Guttman, could not be found to testify today." An investigation revealed that the man posing as James Guttman may have been using a stolen identification card. Philadelphia police said that Mordechai Levy, associated with the Jewish Defense League, had once been arrested in New York City using information from this same stolen card. In August 1983, a series of fires in West Hartford, Connecticut, terrorized the Jewish community and evoked media comparisons with the "Night Of Broken Glass" when Nazis terrorized Jews in pre-World Nar II Germany. Fires were set at Young Israel Synagogue, the Emmanuel Synagogue, and the home of Rabbi Soloman Krupka. In September, the home of Connecticut State Representative Joan Kemler, who is Jewish, was set on fire. Kemler had spoken out against the unknown perpetrator of the three previous fires. Police involvement in the matter was intense. Nationwide media attention focused on the incident, which had launched several legislative proposals to curb "bigotry and violence." police Chief Francis Reynolds doubled patrols in the predominantly Jewish section of town. West Hartford Mayor Charles R. Matties announced a $50,000 reward. Indeed, police staked out 15 entire square blocks of West Hartford, hoping to charge someone with arson. An article by Barbara Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune was typical of the coverage. She quoted an "elderly, white-haired woman" who sobbed, "I had relatives in the Holocaust; I never thought I’d see this happen again." Scott Feigelstein of the Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League is quoted as saying "We have to be realistic because of our history, we have to Stake utmost caution...Perhaps good has come out of all this, because it’s drawn people together, but how sad it’s come g from something too horrible." The Jewish Defense League announced they would have armed patrols operating in West Hartford. The Hartford Courant published an apology for their "insensitive" coverage of this and another incident, in which an anti-Semitic note was found on the doorstep of a West Hartford home. The paper editorial "The Courant, for its part, must continue to walk that delicate line between informing the public and not playing into the arsonist’s hand...The paper must be careful not to inflame an already touchy situation." An early suspect in the case was Barry Dov Schuss, a 17-year old Jewish student. An FBI psychological profile of the arsonist clearly pointed to Schuss, as did several other indicators. Finally, on December 14th, newspapers reported that Schuss had confessed to all four arsons. In fact, Schuss had confessed to his rabbi, Solomon Krupka, several days before his family or the police were notified. Krupka claimed that the relationship between a clergyman and a congregant is privileged. "Krupka disavowed any responsibility for not notifying the police, which would have saved taxpayers thousands of dollars and calmed tense nerves." Damage control in this case was a masterpiece. Jack Schuss, the boy’s father, said that "He has had some problems in the past and has been receiving treatment from time to time." An editorial in the Hartford Courant spoke of "a troubled and alienated 17-year old." The editorial quoted Rabbi Krupka, "It’s time not to be judgmental, but to feel...The feeling now is how would we as a family react...We have to be very sympathetic to his family." It was revealed that until Schuss confessed to his crimes they did not have enough evidence to arrest him, even though several times circumstances pointed directly to him. In fact, Schuss was a suspect virtually from the beginning. At one point during the investigation, police kept 33 officers in the neighborhood where the fires occurred. The Hartford Courant reported that "Six homes were watched 24 hours a day and about a dozen suspects were given lie detector tests. At least 15 officers were assigned to door-to-door interviews. More than 300 people eventually were questioned about the fires. Following his arrest on four counts of second-degree arson, each of which carries a maximum 20-year sentence, a motion was made to try Schuss as a youthful offender, even though he had planned to set at least four additional fires before he was apprehended." On February 27, 1984, Hartford Superior Court Judge John D. Brennan gave Barry Dov Schuss a suspended sentence and placed him on five years probation. In a statement to the court, Schuss said that a "possible" reason for setting the synagogue fires was to to "show vulnerability of the police or the synagogue" to anti-Semitic violence.". Even the rich and famous are not immune to anti-Semitic hoaxes. No less of a personage than Morton Downey, Jr., was caught in such a fabrication in May, 1989. Downey claimed that he had been accosted by either one, two or three "neo-Nazi skinheads" in the men’s restroom at the San Francisco Airport. They then "pinned him against a toilet stall, drew a swastika on his face and cut a small swatch from his scalp." According to Downey, they then gave the Nazi "Sieg Heil" salute and left. Newsweek reported: "Airport police weren’t buying it. Officers on the scene said Downey only had a couple of lines on his face -- not the full swastika he displayed to the press -- and none of the dozen or so people near the bathroom saw anything. Said an airport sergeant, ’Draw your own conclusions.’" Downey later admitted that the incident "was publicity and it was prearranged." One of Downey’s former producers at NNOR-TV in San Francisco said, "Morton knew his show was in trouble and he was trying to make a splash in the San Francisco market." Swastikas, while regarded as specific to anti-Semitism, have become a universal symbol of racism and ethnic bigotry. In San Francisco, two nonJewish minority fire inspectors reported finding a "wooden plaque with a swastika painted on it" in their office in January, 1988. A San Francisco Chronicle account reported, "Their discovery was deemed a striking instance of racial T harassment in the troubled department and led to the resignation of Fire Chief Edward Phipps." The incident was troubling in other respects as well. Fire Captain Michael McKinley found "certain contradictions and inaccuracies" in statements given by fire inspectors Nalter Batiste and David Sun. He asked them to submit to a polygraph machine. He said that "key witnesses" who disputed their statements have passed lie-detector tests. Batiste and Sun were granted disability leave "for stress" since they allegedly found the plaque. Captain mckinley said they had been sent Registered letters asking them to come back for more questioning, but neither replied. The men sought the assistance of private attorneys in the matter, and the case dropped from public view. In New York City, residents of Co-Op City, a massive housing cooperative in the Bronx, found anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas daubed on 51 apartment doors and walls in March 1984. The incident received wide publicity, A including comparisons with Nazi Germany. A $3,500 reward was offered for the perpetrators. Later, two Jewish teenagers tried to collect the reward by turning in someone else and were arrested. The two youths, aged 14 and 15, were charged as juveniles with conspiracy, criminal mischief and falsely reporting a police incident. They are also suspected of other racist and anti-Semitic incidents dating back over a several month period, all of which had been attributed to "racists." As usual, the crimes received far more attention than the revelations of fraud. On July 15, 1987, a Rockville, Maryland Jewish woman and her Roman Catholic husband awoke at 4:45 AM to find a fire in the shape of a swastika burning on their lawn. Neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klansmen were widely speculated as the perpetrators responsible for the outrage. Elyse Rothschild of the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission spoke of the fire as an "act of terror" and said that "...there has to be an outcry from everybody in the country that we will not tolerate that type of behavior; it is to-. tally not acceptable." Lt. Carvel Harding, the Montgomery County fire marshall, reported that the perpetrator came forward and confessed at the urging of his father. Gary L. Stein, a 19-year-old Jewish man, confessed to the crime and implicated a long-time friend, John F. Finnegan, as the actual perpetrator. According to Harding, Stein claimed that "his buddy did it." In July of 1989 the Asbury Park Press (NJ) reported that two unnamed Jewish teenagers had been arrested on the morning of July 15 for throwing firecrackers at passing cars. The two youths were apprehended after a chase. A subsequent investigation quickly linked them to an incident in which swastikas and anti-Semitic remarks were painted on a home and a car, according to Marlboro Township police. The two were charged with seven counts of criminal mischief, four counts of burglary and two counts of theft. Mark Grainer, president of Temple Rodelph Torah of Western Monmouth, remarked "There is enough anti-Semitism from non-Jews. I would hope people brought up in a Jewish home would protect the religion. Something obviously went wrong..." Had the swastika painting and anti-Semitic graffiti been the act of non-Jews, the incident would certainly been prosecuted as a "hate crime." This was not done, however. According to Detective Sgt. Robert Holmes, "It’s tough to prove their actions are anti-Semitic if they are both Jewish." The Asbury Park Press quoted unnamed "community leaders and scholars familiar with anti-Semitism" to the effect that the teenagers "probably acted out of personal reasons rather than religious hatred." Jackson Toby, director of the Institute for Criminological Research at Rutgers University, noted that the incidents might have been motivated by an attempt to "arouse" and "blow the minds" of the local Jewish community. He added, "if you want to get people excited, start talking about prejudice and racism." Three men allegedly entered a Milwaukee synagogue and poured a caustic substance on Buzz Cody, the sexton. The December 1985 incident recurred just a few hours before the start of Hanakuh, a major Jewish holiday. g Cody, a former Roman Catholic who had converted to Judaism twelve years previous, said that one of the men demanded that he unlock the sanctuary’s Ark, where four of the synagogue’s eleven main Torahs are kept. He said the men demanded, "Open it up. We want your Holy Koran", and referred to a group with the initials "P.D.L," possibly referring to a "Palestinian Defense League." Cody described the men as being dark-complexioned and speaking with Middle East accents. The synagogue’s senior rabbi, Francis Barry Silberg, said that Cody was obviously "willing to sacrifice himself for his faith and his duty and the integrity of the synagogue." Alert police detectives suspected a hoax from the beginning. Milwaukee Police Lt. William Vogel said, "I can’t justify it with the investigative results as they have been presented to us. when you’re talking about something involving a radical group, they don’t operate in this manner." This skepticism prompted the Milwaukee Journal to editorialize that, "...the police uncertainly seemingly demeaned the episode’s seriousness...", which "could be reflecting police insensitivity." In July 1985 the Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee had been defaced with nine red, spraypainted swastikas. A year before that, in June 1984, the Congregation Beth El Ner Tamid in nearby Mequon was defaced with several red, spraypainted swastikas. The incident was followed by anonymous telephone calls in the area, one of which said that, "...the defense league is at war with the Jewish community." On 19 December 1985, Cody’s apartment was allegedly vandalized. The walls were covered with anti-Semitic symbols, again in red spray paint, including a large swastika and the letters "PDL." Police could find no forced entry. Rabbi Silberg said, "The victim has been re-victimized." An investigation has turned up no such as organization as the "Palestine Defense League" or "P.D.L.". On 15 May 1986 Cody was charged with two counts of obstructing an officer in connection with reports he had made to police about receiving threatening telephone calls, which police had determined were not true. A tracer installed by the phone company had shown that at least two of the calls were placed from Cody’s private line. Later that same day, possibly fearing discovery and disgrace, Buzz Cody tragically committed suicide. Police Captain Ronald Mehl, referring to the alleged December 1985 attack on Cody said, "There has been no shred of evidence to support the allegation." No further "PDL" incidents followed Cody’s death. Sixteen months after arson destroyed Woodside Synagogue in Silver Spring, MD, no arrests had yet been made. At the time of the 8 April 1986 fire, community leaders rallied to the aid of the orthodox Jewish congregation and supported a wave of demands that urgent action be taken to stem anti-Semitism and hate crimes. Lt. Carvel Harding, a Montgomery County fire investigator, thinks he knows the culprit’s identity, although he lacks "sufficient probable cause" to arrest the subject. Harding told Washington Jewish week that, "We feel we know the motive, but if we tell you, you’ll know who the person is." "This is very touchy," he said. Harding also said that the arson was not "an act against people of the Jewish faith." Synagogue sources said one member who has since left the area was brought in for questioning and is still a suspect. Dr. Sheldon Jacobson, a Jewish dentist, discovered a fire in the form of a large swastika burning on his lawn at his Hewlett Neck, New York, home in August 1979. It was thought that the incident was another in a series of racial offenses that had allegedly occurred in the area in the last several weeks. A few days later police had their culprit. He was Douglas Kahn, a Jewish teen-ager who had been angered because Jacobson’s dog had defecated on his front lawn. He retaliated by pouring gasoline in the form of a 20 by 20-foot swastika on Jacobson’s lawn and lighting it. Kahn, who worked as a guard at Kennedy Airport, was later convicted of fourth-degree criminal mischief4 placed on three years probation and ordered to pay $650 in restitution. 1 "How many hate crimes can one bear? That’s what Nathan Kobrin hag been asking himself all summer in 1991. And there seems no end in sight." Kobrin, a Jewish man from Concord, California, claimed to have been the victim of anti-Semitic telephone calls, letters, arson and verbal threats on 20 separate occasions between May 17 and Labor Day 1991 -- all threatening -his life.’ Moreover, he claimed that the ordeal has damaged his health. On August 6, when an unidentified woman told him he would die, he stopped eating. According to Kobrin, "My nerves were shot, and my stress level was very high." On August 8, Kobrin became almost totally paralyzed. He was taken to a hospital and released the same day. However, after an article in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin appeared detailing his courageous battle with anti-Semitism, followed by another sympathetic account in the August 17 Contra Costa Times, his spirits lightened. He received some 50 calls of support. According to Kobrin, "People were telling me that they weren’t Jewish but that they knew what I was going through.i All kinds of people called. Hispanics were calling, blacks, the whole ethnic tossed salad. It was amazing." The harassment of Kobrin began on May 17th, when Halim Abdul Sanjanie, a Muslim who lived in the same apartment building, allegedly threatened Kobrin because he was Jewish. Sanjanie was arrested. He was jailed a second time July 12, when he resisted Concord Police who were serving a restraining order on Kobrin’s behalf. Over the next several weeks Kobrin claimed to have received numerous telephone death threats and awakened twice to find his backyard fence on fire. On August 16, Kobrin received a letter that read, "Drop charges or I kill you, Jew boy." Sanjanie, 28, who was originally charged with resisting arrest and hitting a police officer, found himself also charged with making terroristic threats and interfering with Kobrin’s civil rights. He faced several years in prison. Having acquired status as a heroic victim of bigotry and prejudice, Kobrin became widely known in the San Francisco Bay area. His case was used as an illustration of the hatred toward Jews that lurks about in our society. However, on 12 September 1991, Bay Area residents were presented with a different story. The Oakland Tribune reported, "A Concord man who claims he has been the victim of 22 anti-Semitic attacks since May told investigators yesterday that he fabricated 10 of the alleged incidents, police said. Nathan Kobrin, 36, said he was the victim of terroristic phone calls, hate letters and two arson fires that were set in his patio. He blamed most of the attacks on his former neighbor, 28-year-old Halim Abdul Sanjanie. "Yesterday Kobrin admitted to investigators that he ignited* the two fires in his patio, left two terroristic messages on his answering machine, and wrote six hate letters to himself, Concord police said." Concord Detective Stuart Roloson discovered Kobrin’s fabrications the night of September 9, after Kobrin claimed to have received a threatening, anti-Semitic note (one of six he had admitted to falsifying), and that he ha chased an assailant through a parking lot. Detective Roloson, who had been watching the apartment all night, hadn’t seen any of the alleged events. Roloson also previously suspected that Kobrin was lying about some of the incidents. The Anti-Defamation League, which had basked in the publicity against anti-Semitism and hate crimes brought by Kobrin’s fabrications, was caught holding the bag. Richard Hirschaut, executive director of the ADL’s Central Pacific Regional Office, who had several contacts with Kobrin, spoke of the developments in a "shocked and shaken voice." He said, "The tragedy of Nathan Kobrin in no way discounts or diminishes the reality of increased anti-Semitism and the increase throughout society in hate crimes." The false charges against Sanjanie were subsequently dropped. Kobrin s was ordered to appear for arraignment 31 January 1992 in Contra Costa Superior Court. He was charged with one count of perjury, two counts of arson,and six counts of preparing false documentary evidence. All are felonies. In addition, he as charged with nine misdemeanor counts of making false police reports. Kobrin was convicted in June, 1992. Deputy District Attorney Terri Barker said he should receive the maximum sentence for committing hate crimes, eight years in state prison. She commented, "I argued that these were hate crimes and they were done out of a motive against Mr. Sanjanie because of his race. It was sophisticated, because there was a lot of planning involved. It was a hideous misuse of the system and of emergency personnel. In July he was sentenced to one year in the county jail, in spite of pleas from his attorney that his sentence be suspended. Nancy Diner, an ADL official who attended the sentencing, said that Kobrin’s hoax "will not change the way it investigates anti-Semitic crimes." In February I994, a Jewish student at the Kansas City area Leawood Middle School was apprehended after he distributed anonymous anti-Semitic notes, apparently only to other Jewish students. According to media sources "the perpetrator was identified...and is thought to be responsible for placing anonymous notes with pencil-drawn swastikas and phrases such as ’go home, Jew’ an the books and lockers of six students over two weeks." The incident caused a major furor among parents of students at the school, and some threatened to use the legal system to force release of the student’s name. Leawood Police Chief Stephen Cox criticized members of the community and the media for creating a "feeding frenzy" over the incident. He said: "The child is already in intensive counseling, and so are the parents...Because they are responding appropriately, I see no need whatsoever for any further involvement or sanctions through either the criminal justice system or the school system. "What is very harmful now is the continued turmoil at the school, children accusing each other, divisive efforts to identify the child. I would urge these people to carefully consider their own motives before taking such action." One of the stranger cases of faked anti-Semitic violence was staged in I991 by a former volunteer firefighter in Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, who said he was mistaken as a Jew. Terry Hutter had claimed that a mysterious fire set at his home was one of several alleged hate crimes committed against him since 1984 by people who wrongly believed he was Jewish. The fire was contained before the home was destroyed but another fire completed the destruction a month later. The Boulder, Colorado, Daily Camera reported "Investigators discovered that, in a videotape of the fire, Hutter inadvertently was recorded talking about setting the fire. Hutter and another man involved in the taped conversation, Curtis Covey, didn’t realize they were being recorded." In April, 1992, Terry Hutter pleaded no contest to a charge of third degree arson. He was sentenced to eight years probation and mandatory psychiatric counseling. A Chicago-area case of anti-Semitic vandalism in a West Rogers Park townhouse was originally thought by police to be a hate crime. On 5 February 1994, however, police had arrested Shazz Steele, 17, and his 14-year-old girlfriend. The two were charged with the vandalism and with burglarizing the same house. Belmont area Police Sgt. Rick Batrich said that the youth, who apparently knew the owner of the townhouse and that the two painted the graffiti to link the burglary with the other unsolved anti-Semitic incidents in the area. "They did this to throw some attention off themselves," he said. It was one of the worst anti-Semitic cemetery desecrations in recent memory. Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators initially believed that the June 1991 incident at Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles, one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the area, may have been a hate crime. According to news reports, "More than 24 tombstones were knocked over and Nazi swastikas, Ku Klux Klan ’KKKs’ and devil worship slogans were painted on some walls and tombs." Within days the case was solved. The owner of C.D.T.A. Security, Roger Ricardo Sapien, 27, of Rosemead, wanted to obtain the security contract on the Jewish cemetery. According to authorities, Sapien, with the aid of two confederates, apparently committed the vandalism in order to discredit the firm currently providing security there. Information on the case took detectives to Sapien’s home, where they found the guard dogs recently stolen from the cemetery. The three were booked for investigation of vandalism of a religious cemetery, a felony, and Sapien was charged with theft of the dogs. In Cooper City, Florida, Jerome and Jamie Brown Roedel, a Jewish couple, returned home to find their home trashed and burglarized. The April 1993 as incident included anti-Semitic graffiti in the form of swastikas painted on the walls. News reports indicated that "Outraged community leaders, police and residents moved C quickly to stem what they thought was the start of a trend in hate crimes. within two weeks, an interfaith council to promote unity among ethnic and religious groups was organized." 55 A detailed eight-month joint investigation with the Cooper City Police, the FBI and the Florida state Department of Insurance Fraud was conducted. According to Police Detective Bobby Cates: "In the weeks prior to the burglary, Jamie Roedel purchased several expensive items...She then conspired with several people to stage the burglary and vandalism. She also filed a claim with Allstate, her insurer, for $47,000 in losses and damages." The insurance company paid Roedel $30,000. After she collected the money, Jamie Roedel left her husband and began living an expensive lifestyle with a boyfriend. In December 1993 she was charged with fraud and grand theft. She was freed on $2,000 bail. Her estranged husband was not charged in the case. Swastika-painting vandals were suspected of setting fire to the basement of a downtown Denver restaurant 10 June 1990. The restaurant’s Jewish owners were beside themselves with outrage at the ugly graffiti ("Hitler Reborn," "Die Jew."). Lee Naldman, owner of the Egg Shell Restaurant, also noted that business was down 40%, according to the Rocky Mountain News: Denver police intelligence officers suspected skinhead involvement. Denver Mayor Frederico Pena ordered an investigation into recent racist acts in the city and the News carried several alarmist articles on growing racism and anti-Semitism. Lee Naldman said, "I think there’s a lot more anti-Semitism in Denver than people realize." 58 City leaders responded with outrage, stepped up police activity and called for new anti-racist legislation. As the investigation proceeded, however, it became more and more apparent that skinheads were not involved in the event and the possibility of a hoax loomed on the horizon. Denver police have heavily infiltrated local gangs and skinhead groups and had kept meticulous track of racist and anti-Semitic incidents in the a community. The News noted that most incidents were "committed by adolescents - perhaps bored and ignorant of the consequences of their acts - and not by organized hate groups...", a fact that is often ignored. A one-paragraph article finally noted that "Swastikas spraypainted on the walls of the restaurant may have been an effort to mislead." In a later article on "hate crime hoaxes," News reporter Kevin Flynn noted that "After all the grandstanding and headlines, the spray painting of swastikas in the Egg Shell arson is now believed to have been a hoax, and not to have involved neo-Nazi skinheads at all. Investigators believe the swastikas were S meant to divert suspicion." In one prominent case the suspected perpetrator of a hate crime hoax and insurance fraud was acquitted on the basis of insufficient evidence. Susan and Curtis Klein, a young Jewish couple, returned home to find .their Germantown, Maryland, townhouse vandalized. Swastikas were painted on the living room carpet, bedroom mirrors, walls and hallways. Most of their clothes were ripped and most of their furniture was either painted black, ripped, scratched or smashed. The deliberateness and effort required to commit the 22 March 1991 vandalism was highly unusual in alleged hate crimes. Someone would have to have spent the better part of an hour attending to the detailed graffiti and vandalism. In the bedroom of their 8-year-old son, the words "Jew Boy" were sprayed on a mirror. According to Mr. Klein, "The officer said this is the worst case of vandalism he’s ever seen in a private home." He added, "We grew up being taught about the holocaust and being K told, ’Never again,’ and here we are now.60I don’t think we’ve gotten through the state of shock." The apparent hate crime was committed just a day before Jeffrey Lee Eskew, a self-styled skinhead, was acquitted of breaking and entering, malicious destruction and religious vandalism at the an Orthodox Jewish boy’s school in Montgomery County, Maryland. The response to the anti-Semitic vandalism was overwhelming. Five hundred people volunteered to help Curtis and Susan Klein clean up their home. A raffle was organized to raise money for the Kleins. Area businesses donated food and soft drinks for the volunteers and a local hauling company offered to provide a truck to haul debris. Newspapers printed an address where donations could be sent to the Klein family. Police skepticism crystallized early in the investigation. Aside from the unusual time-consuming deliberateness of the attack, the most obvious clue was the issue of secondary gain. The Kleins became local heroes and symbols of the struggle against anti-Semitism. According to news reports Mr. Klein claimed that, "...90 percent of their belongings were slashed, broken, shredded or marred with black spraypaint that was used to write hate graffiti throughout the house." A review of hate crimes against property and anti-Semitic vandalism suggests that cases where the perpetrators go to this much effort to send a message are extremely rare. For a person to take time to shred clothes, for example, implies a deeply personal motive for the vandalism, suggesting that it might have been someone with a personal animus against the victim. Investigators could not locate anyone who fit this description. On the other hand, cases like this often prove to be hoaxes. According to Montgomery County Police spokesman Harry Geehreng, "We have not established a motive. We have no suspects. It?s strange. why was this family targeted? There were other Jewish families in the area." Before long the media began reporting that Curtis Klein was a suspect in the case, although no charges had been filed. The Kleins’ attorneys, Barry Helfand and Alan Goldstein, were accused police of "leaking information" to the press. Goldstein spoke of it in conspiratorial terms, saying the police were trying to "poison the public’s mind." It was also learned that Klein had been charged with stealing approximately $1,300 from a Germantown beauty salon where he used to work. On advice from his attorneys, Klein refused to answer any questions. On July 6th, Montgomery County police charged Klein with felony theft, destruction of property and filing a false crime report in order to collect more than $31,000 from his insurance company. Anti-Defamation League regional director David Friedman, who had taken an interest in the case, expressed "sadness" at the direction the case had taken. Klein denied the charges and said he had been a victim of hate violence. His wife was not charged. A district court statement of charges detailed several inconsistencies in Kleins account.. Montgomery County detective Kevin Stone said that entry was apparently not forced. Curtis Klein reported to work as a hairdresser about 10:15 AM on the day of the incident, giving him ample time to vandalize the house. A neighbor said that the Kleins’ dog, which had always barked at strangers, did not bark that morning. Although many of the Kleins’ belongings were destroyed or damaged, some items that were obviously Jewish were not harmed -- somewhat the opposite of what might be expected in a bona fide hate crime. Police immediately searched for a spraypaint can, but it was three days later that the Kleins turned in a can they said was found under the debris. The can had been purchased at the hardware store closest to the Klein residence, and a clerk said that Curtis Klein had been in the store on the morning of the vandalism. Klein at first claimed that $6,750 in jewelry had been stolen, but later said it was not missing. The statement also said that the Kleins were in debt, including $5,000 owed to the Internal Revenue Service and $7,000 to relatives. Their combined incomes were $41,000, from which $580 monthly was for car payments and $765 for rent on the townhouse, police said. They had taken out a renters. insurance policy less than three months before the incident, had broken their lease and made plans to move shortly before the vandalism. In September 1991 the case came to trial. Eight prosecution witnesses testified. Frank Bell, property specialist for the USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Company, said that Klein had claimed compensation for a glass-topped dining room table. Bell testified that "a chunk" was broken from the table when he inventoried damages on March 25. However, a police photograph taken of the table during the investigation on March 21 showed that it was unbroken at that time, suggesting that it had been broken afterward. Nevertheless, the evidence against Klein, although seemingly strong, was circumstantial. Hardware store clerk Jay Russell could not identify Mr. Klein as the man who purchased the spraypaint, although he remembered him in the store that morning. Claiming that the evidence presented by the state was "speculative," Judge William C. Miller found for the defense and acquitted Curtis Klein of all charges. with respect to the failure of the Kleins, dog to bark at the alleged vandal, Miller said, "The onlg7thing the court can infer is that this dog is not a very good watchdog." A week later Maryland Assistant State’s Attorney James Trusty dropped the charges in the alleged theft of $1,300 from Klein’s former employer. Klein had been accused of destroying and falsifying receipts between 1 November and 16 November 1990 police said. Kleins’ attorney, Barry Hefland, said, "My client has already admitted it to police. My client had a nervous breakdown over this case. In spite of his admission, I’g8have won the case, he has reimbursed his former employers." But it was not over yet. Once again the mysterious anti-Semitic vandal struck the hapless Klein family. In June 1992 -- fifteen months after the first anti-Semitic incidentSusan Klein said she opened the door of her new apartment and faced a black Nazi swastika painted on the walls. As in the March 1991 incident, couches, chairs, drapes and clothing were slashed. Drawers were strewn about, china closed and kitchen cupboard doors were opened and everything seemed to have been spotted by black spraypaint. "Jew" was painted across a table and a picture of a rabbi was slashed. Police said they found no sign of forced entry. Mrs. Klein expressed concern that police would consider her husband a suspect once again. In October, 1994, three Tacoma residents returned home to find antiSemitic slogans and swastikas, along with anti-homosexual graffiti spraypainted all over their apartment. Upholstery was slashed, plumbing torn loose, and red paint splattered throughout the interior. Somebody had taken a long time to complete their "hate crime," which occurred while the three were attending a Gay Pride celebration in nearby Vancouver, British Columbia. Interestingly, in spite of the swastikas, none of the victims was Jewish although all three were evidently homosexuals. Media coverage of the event was extensive, and the victims received several private donations from sympathetic citizens. Police estimated the damage at $80,000. A month later Tacoma police received a tip through a local "hot line." After an investigation, the "hate crime" took on another tone. According to media reports, "Three Tacoma residents, once considered victims of bigotry, were arrested...and accused of vandalizing the rental home they shared, then reporting it to police as a hate crime motivated by their gay lifestyle. "Eric Lee Sturgis, 26, Lee Erick Brovold, 24, and Michelle L. Murray were each charged yesterday...for their roles in the destruction of their home...and the subsequent insurance s claims they made." Police arrested Sturgis and Brovold as they were attempting to flee the state. Investigators searched three storage units, one 10 by 30 feet, where the suspects apparently moved the goods as donations accumulated. Prosecutors also charged that Sturgis and Brovold had threatened to kill witnesses who said the two had admitted the hoax to them. l ADL Bulletin, March 1985. 2 Ronald Smothers, "Hate Fliers Inflame Mayoral Race in New Orleans," New York Times (27 February 1994). 3 Ibid. 4 James Feron, "Yonkers Housing Advocate Held in Fake Death Threats." New York Times (1 December 1988). 5 Sharon Broussard, "Swastika Raid On Deseg Supporter." New York Daily News (28 November 1988). 6 "Yonkers Woman Admits Faking Death Threats and Anti-Semitic Graffiti," Jewish Telegraph Agency (1 December 1988). 7 "Jewish Shops Struck," Associated Press (24 November 1985). 8 Joe Starita, "Vandals Arouse Fears Of Anti-Semitism," Miami Herald (6 December 1985). 9 William Saphire, "Jewish Defense Group Organizes Patrols," Kansas City Jewish Chronicle (6 December 1985). 10 Bill Farrell and Alton Slagle, "Han Nabbed in Rock Spree," New York Daily News (10 December 1985). 11 Jewish Telegraph Agency, "NY Jewish Vandal Nabbed," Kansas City Jewish Chronicle (20 December 1985). 12 Nels Nelson, "Nazis Win Permit For Park Rally Sunday," Philadelphia Daily News (21 February 1979). 13 "Park Service Rescinds Permit for Nazi Rally at Independence hall," New York Times (24 February 1979). l4 Barbara Sullivan, "3 Arsons Ignite Old Fear of AntiSemitism," Chicago Tribune (1 September 1983). 15 Karlynn Carrington, "4th Target Hit By Arson," Hartford Courant (18 September 1983). 16 Sullivan, Op Cit. 17 Michael J. Davies, "Covering An Arsonist’s Acts," Hartford Courant (2 October 1983). l8 Tao Woolfe, "Father Says His Son Confessed To Rabbi About Arson Attacks," Hartford Courant (16 December 1983). 19 Editorial, "Peace In The Family," Hartford Courant (15 December 1983). 20 Dave Lesher, "Arson Arrest Ended Obsession For Police," Hartford Courant (17 December 1983). 2l "Suspect Planned To Set More Fires, Authorities Say." Hartford Courant (24 January 1984). 22 Dave Lesher, "Youth Given Suspended Sentence For Setting Hartford Fires Hartford Courant (28 February 1984). 23 "Mort Gets Trashed?," Newsweek (8 May 1989). 24 Joe Palka, "Mouthing Off," Washington Times (8 May 1992). 25Thomas G. Keane, "Fire Dept’s Swastika Probe is Stalled," San Francisco Chronicle (20 February 1988). 26 Ibid. 27 "Swastikas Fainted On Apartments By Two Jewish Youths," Jewish Sentinel (31 March 1984). 28 Rhone Melody Bosin, "Jewish Youth Charged In Swastika Burning," Washington Jewish Week (6 August 1987). 29 Ibid. 30 Frank Argote-Freyre, "Jewish Teens Charged In Spray-Painting." Asbury Park Press (18 July 1989). 31 Frank Argote-Freyre, "Swastika Incident Not Considered AntiSemitic Act." Asbury Park Press (23 July 1989). 32 Ibid. 33 "Acid Attack Puzzles Police: Sexton’s Story Stirs Questions," Milwaukee Journal (8 December 1985). 34 Ibid. 35 Ibid. 36 Editorial, "Synagogue Incident is Shocking," Milwaukee Journal (11 December 1985).) 37 Jay Anderson, "Several Suspected in Synagogue Case," Milwaukee Journal (24 July 1984); Alicia Armstrong, "Vandals Strike at Jewish Center," Milwaukee Journal (27 July 1985). 38 "Vandalized Apartment is Latest Attack on Sexton," Milwaukee Journal (20 December 1985). 39 "Brother Says Sexton Was Depressed, " Milwaukee Journal (161 May 1986); "Additional Tests Ordered On Cause Of Sexton’s Death," Milwaukee Journal (17 May 1986). 40 Lisa S. Lenkiewicz, "Woodside Rebuilds, Arsonist ’Known’ But Still At Large," Washington Jewish Week (6 August 1987). 41 Nat Kanter, "Jewish Youth Arrested In Swastika Fire," New York Daily News (29 August 1979): United Press International, "Dog Stirs Swastika Burning," (April 1980). 42 Garth Wolkoff, "Hate Crimes Damaging Health of Concord Man," Northern California Jewish Bulletin (6 September 1991). 43 Ibid. 44 Ibid. 45 Robert J. Lopez, "Alleged Harassment Victim Says He Wrote Some Hate Letters Himself," Oakland Tribune (12 September 1991). 46 Garth Wolkoff, "Concord Man Admits Fabricating Anti-Semitic Attacks," Northern California Jewish Bulletin (20 September 1991). 47 Ibid. 48 David Mills, "Han Ordered To Trial In Hate-Crime Hoax," West County Times, (17 January 1992). 49 Garth Wolkoff, "Han Who Faked Hate Crimes Gets Year In County Jail," Northern California Jewish Bulletin (17 July 1992). 50 Christine Vendel, "Jewish Student Placed Anti-Semitic Notes, Police Say," Kansas City Star (11 February 1994). 51 Ibid. 52 Julie Hutchinson, "Ex-Firefighter Pleads No Contest to Arson," Daily Camera (15 April 1992). 53 "Youths Charged In Burglary Case,? Chicago Tribune (7 February 1994). 54 George Ramos, "Security Firm Owner Arrested In Vandalism," Los Angeles limes (8 June 1991). 55"Woman Faked Hate Crime to Collect Insurance, Police Say," (Chicago Tribune (2 January 1994) 56 Ibid. 57 Hark Brown, "Swastikas In Denver: Isolated Incidents, or Worse?" Rocky Mountain News (13 June 1990). 58 Tustin Amole, "Pena Orders Investigation of Racist Acts." Rocky Mountain News (14 June 1990); For Racial Justice," Rocky Mountain News (23 December 1990) 59 Kevin Flynn, "Hate Crime Hoaxes: Lies Sabotage The Battle I Aï¬ 60 Enrique J. Gonzales, "Vandalized: Jewish Family Finds Clue, But Still in ’State of Shock,’" Washington Times (23 March 1991). 61 Peter Kelly, "500 To Clean Up Vandalized Home," Montgomery (Journal (28 March 1991). 62 Larry Witham, "Vandals’ Victims Refuse to Relocate." Washington Times (29 March 1991). 63 Ibid. 64 Joanna Shuman, "Kleins Maintain Their Innocence in Hate Crime," Montgomery gazette (10 April 1991). 65 Arlo Wagner, "Hate Victim Charged as Fake," Washington Times (17 July 1991); Retha Hill, "’Hate’ Crime Victim now The Accused," Washington Post (17 July 1991). 66 Arlo Wagner, "Homeowner-Vandal Case Isn’t Proven, Lawyer Says," Washington Times (27 September 1991). 67 Arlo Wagner, "Man Acquitted on Charges He Vandalized His Own Home," Washington Times (1 October 1991). 68 Arlo Wagner, "Man Acquitted of Vandalizing Own Home Also Freed on Theft," Washington Times (9 October 1991). 69 Arlo Wagner, "Couple Reports anti-Semitic Acts for Second Time," Washington Times (12 June 1992). 70 Joe Mooney, "Hate Crime A Scam, Say Charges," Seattle Post Intelligencer (September 13, 1994).