Neo-Nazi gunman in Alan Berg's murder dies in prison

The Denver Post/August 17, 2010

The neo-Nazi gunman who authorities said fired 13 bullets into Denver talk-show host Alan Berg has died of natural causes in the federal penitentiary where he was serving a 252-year sentence.

Bruce Pierce, 56, died about 2:45 p.m. Monday at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex. He was incarcerated in the high security section of the facility located near Allenwood, Pa.

Prison spokesman Mike Castagnola said Pierce was "an average inmate" who held a full-time job and participated in recreational activities.

Castagnola said Pierce had been at the prison for about five years and was in a two-person cell. He had previously spent time at the federal prisons in Leavenworth and Marion, Ill.

Pierce, who lived in Troy, Mont., prior to Berg's assassination, was a member of The Order, a group that had plotted to kill the outspoken Jewish talk-show host.

Berg died June 18, 1984. He was working for KOA radio at the time.

When he sentenced Pierce in December 1987, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said that Pierce had forfeited his right to live in society:

"The man (Berg) was killed for who he was, what he believed in, and what he said and did, and that crime strikes at the very core of the Constitution."

Matsch gave Pierce a 150-year term, which he added to the sentence imposed on Pierce for participating in an Order-directed crime spree aimed at establishing an Aryan bastion in the Northwest. Pierce's sentence totaled 252 years.

Anath White, now a writer working in the film and television industry in California, was Berg's producer at KOA.

"Alan derided them for their ridiculous beliefs that the Jews were mud people and the spawn of Satan," White recalled.

The Order believed in "killing all the Jews and sending all the blacks back to Africa," a theme of hatred Berg spoke against, said White.

She said that the members of The Order listened to tapes of Berg tangling on-air with people who held neo-Nazi beliefs and anti-semitic beliefs.

The Order put Berg in the top three of their hit list, which included TV producer Norman Lear and Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"They figured Norman Lear would be hard to get and Morris Dees lived too far away," said White.

Berg was an easier target.

White said she thought Berg's murder was a "flash point" in U.S. history. Subsequently, Timothy McVeigh said the The Order and the Turner Diaries, a novel about the overthrow of the federal government, were his inspirations for the Oklahoma City bombing.

White noted that from prison, Pierce continued to spew hatred.

"It's left me to wonder what makes somebody like this," said White. "I think these people didn't have much opportunity in their lives and scapegoat. They blame others for not making it."

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said The Order was "the most professional white supremacist organization since reconstruction" based on the complexity of their conspiracy and the crimes the group committed.

Pierce was a key member of The Order, he added.

"I think Pierce has a similarity to Tim McVeigh - caring out an assassination without breaking a sweat," Potok said. "They were both 'good soldiers'."

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