Roanoke neo-Nazi files for bankruptcy

William White is seeking Chapter 11 protection after what he called a "cash crunch."

The Roanoke Times/June 20, 2008

Four years after coming to Roanoke and starting a rental home business that quickly drew attention to his role in the white supremacy movement, William White has filed for bankruptcy.

White, a neo-Nazi activist who is perhaps better known for his virulent Internet postings than as the owner of White Homes and Land LLC, recently sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In a petition filed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia, White listed assets of $1.9 million and liabilities of $1.4 million.

White, commander of the Roanoke-based American National Socialist Workers Party, was one of the country's few white supremacy leaders with a viable business, giving him both credibility in the movement and the financial means to spread his racist views, according to one expert on hate groups.

"Now that's gone, and I think he has very little left," said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"It's a remarkable end for a guy who simply can't stop bragging about what a brilliant businessman he is."

According to an SPLC report issued earlier this year, White came to Roanoke in 2004 to start a real estate business, maxing out several credit cards for the capital to purchase the first of about 20 homes he currently maintains as rental properties in an impoverished part of the city's West End neighborhood.

About the same time, White began to post racially charged comments on his Web site, complaining about his black tenants and suggesting that he would evict them as part of a "ghetto beautification project."

A federal housing discrimination complaint filed by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People produced no charges against White, who continued to use as a forum to comment on race relations both in Roanoke and across the country.

White said Tuesday that his reliance on credit cards had nothing to do with his financial difficulties, which he attributed to medical bills of more than $130,000 from the recent hospitalization of his wife and newborn daughter.

"We're just reorganizing some debt," he said.

"The property is certainly not underwater. We have plenty of money in it, but we just had a temporary cash crunch."

White said he has been planning for some time to sell his rental homes. He said the bankruptcy proceedings should have no effect on his home construction business or on his role as leader of his neo-Nazi organization.

Although White discounted the role that credit cards played in his financial difficulties, a list of his 20 largest unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy filing includes more than $52,000 in credit card debt.

White said he has paid off the credit card used at the start of his business.

As assets, White listed 13 rental properties on Chapman and Patterson avenues with a combined value of more than $1.3 million. He also listed about $565,000 in personal property, the bulk of which he said came from his interest in White Homes and Land. The remaining seven rental properties are listed in the name of White's company and were not included in his personal bankruptcy.

Another section of the 70-page bankruptcy petition contains evidence of White's cash-flow problem: While his business grossed about $550,000 in 2007 and $541,000 in 2006, income to date this year was listed as just $78,797.

White's financial problems come at a time when his neo-Nazi activities have been getting more attention.

In perhaps his most publicized controversy, White used his Web site in August to post the names and addresses of the defendants in the Jena Six case, a racially charged assault proceeding in Jena, La. Next to the black defendants' contact information, White posted the words: "Lynch the Jena 6."

Although the FBI said at the time it was investigating White's actions, no legal action has been taken against him in connection with the Jena Six case.

More recently, White tangled with lawyers involved in a housing discrimination case in Virginia Beach. After White inserted himself into the case - sending racially charged letters to black tenants who had sued their white landlord - lawyers for the plaintiffs asked a judge to impose sanctions against him. The judge has yet to make a decision in that case.

Regardless of what happens to White in bankruptcy court, Potok acknowledged that it will likely have little influence on his penchant for posting nasty and Nazi-inspired views on the Internet.

"My guess is that Bill White will continue to try to be a player in the movement," Potok said, "because he has an ego as large as the planet."

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