A 21-year-old Arizona man has been sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy by members of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen
Division to intimidate and terrorize journalists, Jewish people and people of color, including in Seattle and the Northwest.
Johnny Roman Garza was one of four people arrested by the FBI and indicted by federal prosecutors in February on conspiracy charges involving mailing threatening communications and cyberstalking.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour noted that, since his arrest, Garza had attempted to educate himself about the groups he had targeted and work to undo some of the harm he inflicted, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Coughenour, based in the Seattle federal courthouse on Stewart Street, held the sentencing via Zoom call.
Coughenour noted the “critically important role that the press has in informing the public” and said prison time was necessary “given the severity of this conduct and the horrible impact it had on people that are important in our society,” the release said.
U.S. Attorney Brian Moran noted that while Garza was not the mastermind or leader of the plot, “he enthusiastically embraced it, researching addresses for journalists and those who oppose hate in our communities.”
The charges filed in February say that the members of Atomwaffen — German for “Atomic Weapon” — mounted an intimidation campaign against at least one Seattle television journalist and two local activists associated with the Anti-Defamation League, as well as activists and journalists in other states. Posters containing swastikas, skulls and threats like “We know where you live” were sent to some of their home addresses.
Last January, according to the charges, Garza and another person traveled to an apartment complex in Phoenix where a member of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists lived, and then proceeded to the home of the editor of a local Jewish publication. The two men were seen fleeing the area and a poster reading “Your Actions Have Consequences” was found taped on the editor’s bedroom window.
Also indicted were Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond; Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas; and Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 21, of Spring Hill, Florida.
Parker-Dipeppe pleaded guilty in September 2020 and is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 24, 2021. The two purported leaders of the conspiracy, Cole and Shea, are scheduled for trial on March 22, 2021.