Neo-Nazi gets probation for terrorizing North Dakota town

USA Today/April 29, 2014

By Michael Winter

A white supremacist was sentenced Tuesday to probation for terrorizing a North Dakota town he sought to transform into a racist enclave.

Under a plea deal, 62-year-old Craig Cobb will serve four years of supervised probation for one felony count of terrorizing and five counts of menacing. He had been jailed since mid-November, when he and Kynan Dutton were arrested while patrolling Leith with guns, threatening and frightening some of the town's 16 residents.

Cobb faced a possible 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges. In sentencing Cobb only to probation, Judge David Reich said most victims "indicated they were in agreement with the plea agreement" with the Grant County state's attorney.

Leith officials had wanted prison time and they said they remained afraid of Cobb and his associates.

"There was no justice served in my opinion at all," Leith Mayor Ryan Schock said afterward, The Forum of Fargo-Moorheadreported. "When are we going to be safe from him? He has made his mark on our lives."

Council member Lee Cook, one of Cobb's victims, called the sentence "a failure of justice."

"I mean, this guy got off. He made our lives living hell, me and my family, his family," he said, motioning to the mayor. "And now he's walking the streets again."

State's attorney Todd Schwarz said the town has nothing to fear from Cobb.

"I can tell you we'll be watching, and Mr. Cobb will be on GPS monitoring. So if all of a sudden he's within 500 yards of Leith, he'll be back in jail immediately," Schwarz said.

Cobb told the judge that "I regret my actions" and asked to be allowed to move to Missouri to take care of his mother.

"I know I was wrong and I accept responsibility for my actions," he said. "It was an unfortunate confluence of circumstances and bad decisions on my part."

Under the terms of his probation, Cobb cannot have contact with the victims — including through the Internet — and may not have guns. Under federal law, he also will be banned from possessing firearms for the rest of his life.

Dutton, 29, received two years of supervised probation after pleading guilty in January to five misdemeanor counts of menacing and two counts of disorderly conduct. He now lives in a town near Leith.

Cobb moved to Leith in 2012 and bought a house and a dozen additional lots. In August, The Bismarck Tribune exposed his intentions to recruit neo-Nazis and take over the government of the Grant County town, about 50 miles southwest of Bismarck.

Grant County records show that Cobb has since transferred ownership of two lots: one to Tom Metzger, a former grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in California, which founded the White Aryan Resistance, and another to Alex Linder, originator of the Vanguard News Network, a white supremacist website, according to the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center.

Metzer later said he would return the property, saying he disagreed with Cobb's tactics.

A fugitive from hate-crime charges in Canada, Cobb has admitted being friends with the man accused of killing three people at Jewish sites in Kansas earlier this month.

Cobb told the Associated Press this month that he planned to "retire from white nationalism" because he's tired of the spotlight.

Shortly before his arrest, Cobb was humiliated on national talk show when DNA test results showed he is 14% black.

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