White Wolves called 'home grown terrorists'

The Connecticut Post/November 15, 2010

Bridgeport - It's a simple plan that most businesses employ. Fill a need, build a reputation and grow in status and numbers.

This wasn't quite your normal business, however. The Connecticut White Wolves had unfurled Nazi flags at a menorah protest in Fairfield last December, stormed a meeting of gay activists at the Stratford library in 2003 and rallied on the Milford Green against immigrants. Now the group, also called Battalion 14, wanted more publicity and more white supremacists to add to its 14-strong membership.

So, federal prosecutors say, the group and its leader, Kenneth Zrallack Jr., of Ansonia, hoped sales of guns, body armor and homemade hand grenades to the Imperial Klans of America, the country's second-largest Ku Klux Klan offshoot, would bring them recognition, status and members.

Instead, the sales netted them a federal grand jury indictment.

On Monday, Zrallack, 29; his right-hand man, Alexander DeFelice, 33, of Milford; and DeFelice's friend, David Sutton, 46, also of Milford, who is black, went on trial before U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall and a 12-member jury for participating in a conspiracy to make and sell hand grenades and guns to the informant, a convicted felon.

"This trial is going to be an eye-opener for the people of Connecticut," said a person who knows the defendants. "This is going to be a wake-up call."

'Home-Grown terrorists'

The Connecticut White Wolves burst onto news pages in spring 2002.

That's when Stratford High School released its yearbook showing Zrallack's younger brother, Matthew, giving a Nazi salute on the cover. The national publicity that garnered spurred them on.

The group claimed to have been born on April 20 -- Adolf Hitler's birthday. Members created a website marked by a snarling white wolf and bearing the words: "White children should not be brought up in this hip-hop, homosexual and DIEversity loving society."

They began showing up in their black trench coats, Connecticut White Wolves T-shirts, red suspenders and red laced black boots at events like the National Alliance rally in Washington, D.C., protesting U.S. support to Israel; an anti-immigration rally at Liberty State Park in N.J.; and outside Kingdom Life Church in Milford, when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama's controversial former minister, appeared.

"What they are," said James Monahan, a professor of criminology at the University of New Haven, "are home-grown terrorists."

Nothing fueled their egos more than words written about their August 2003 appearance at the White Unity Fest conducted by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Osceola, Ind.

Mark Martin, a member of the White Revolution, spoke glowingly of the Wolves' appearance at the White Unity Fest, according to a 2004 report filed by the Anti-Defamation League's Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network.

"Shortly after I arrived, I met Ken and his White Wolves from Connecticut," the report quotes Martin. "Talk about a brilliant display in their black T-shirts, black pants, red suspenders and boot laces. ... Meeting Ken was truly one of the high points of the weekend ... his motivation, determination, and yes, tattoos, came through loud and clear."

Later, Kenneth Zrallack discussed the trip online, according to another 2004 intelligence report, this time filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The law center reported him bragging "on the whole ride we were in uniform for each bathroom, food and gas stop. We wore our black cargo pants, red laced boots and our CT White Wolves shirts."

The he boasted about his participation in a cross burning at the White Unity Fest.

"I grabbed the torch and was ready ... saluting the cross then walking towards it and lighting the way for Christ was amazing," the report quotes him as saying.

Promoting a race war?

Zrallack's and his White Wolves' reputations began growing. Every run-in with law enforcement drew national attention.

There's the September 2002 Hamden bar fight pitting Arthur Legere, a White Wolves member, and Louis Wagner, grand titan of the Connecticut White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, against patrons. Police were called. Legere was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role. Wagner was not charged.

Their reputation grew even stronger on May 21, 2003.

That's the night when nearly a dozen members, carrying posters and blaring hate through a bullhorn, stormed a first-floor meeting room at the Stratford Public Library. There, members of Bridges -- a gay, lesbian and transgender group -- were discussing plans to open a community center in the area. During the resulting fracas, Matthew Zrallack, Kenneth's brother, yelled at the Bridges' president, calling him a "bitch" and grabbed a plainclothes police detective by the neck. He was arrested and later convicted of third-degree assault and breach of peace which netted him a six-month jail term.

In September 2003, 20 members and associates gathered outside a Trumbull teenager's house party. Before police dispersed them, Brian Staehly, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 305-pound Wolf from West Haven, smashed the rear window of a car containing two black teens. Staehly, just 17 at the time, was granted youthful offender status and given a suspended sentence and two years probation.

They are accused of harassing a member's black neighbor in West Haven, vandalizing a Stratford school superintendent's car and spraying racial slurs on buildings.

Now the FBI informant claims members of the Wolves discussed how the assassination of Obama would help promote a race war during one of their meetings.

Informant a key to the case

On Monday, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Justice Department's national security division in Washington, D.C., will begin presenting evidence to a 12-member jury in Bridgeport. The prosecution team intends to call 29 witnesses and play 101 video and audio recordings, totaling about two-and-a-half hours during the expected three-week trial.

But the key to their case is the testimony from Joseph Anastasio, who for 18 months associated with the group, participated in its rallies, recorded conversations and filmed meetings.

Another witness will be Robert Nill, an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who specializes in violent, domestic extremist groups operating in the Northeast. He'll testify about how stickers and verbal greetings of "88" are a reference to "Heil Hitler," since H is the eighth letter in the alphabet. He'll tell the jury the name Battalion 14 comes from the 14-word slogan of white supremacists: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

Already two defendants, William R. Bolton, 31, a reputed member and Edwin T. Westmoreland, 27, a participant, both of Stratford, pleaded guilty to charges and are awaiting sentencing.

'A way with words -- Like a cult leader'

Both Zrallack and DeFelice are being detained without bond. Their lawyers, Nicholas Adamucci and Michael Hillis, respectively, declined comment.

They have advised the judge they intend to raise a defense of entrapment by the informant.

A "Free Kenny" website has popped up on the Internet seeking donations for his legal defense fund in Leslie, Mich. It has a goal of raising $12,500. Websites run by White News, Storm Front and the American Nationalist Union also promote Zrallack's story.

The sites carry or link to a biography of Zrallack, who is described as a 29-year-old "white rights advocate" who grew up in a "tight knit Stratford, Ct. family."

It claims he was captain of his high school soccer team, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and the leader of a youth group that provided meals and companionship for the elderly. It explains that his bid to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps was rejected because he suffers from Type I diabetes.

"He was rejected because his body is covered with Nazi tattoos," claims a person who knows him. "Kenny is very intelligent. He reads every newspaper. He's a good speaker. He has a way with words -- like a cult leader."

The defendant's defense lawyer, Adamucci, claimed during one court hearing that the informant does all the talking and the Battalion 14 members respond with "yahs" and "OKs," suggesting they were goaded or entrapped into any illegal action.

But an associate of Zrallack doesn't buy that.

"He's a loose wire ... a potential time bomb," he said.

And prosecutors say recorded tapes that capture Zrallack's plotting give the true picture of the group and its leader -- like the recorded conversation where he laments "better do a lone wolf...(expletive deleted) the world up ... Yeah, get drunk, and then alco-holocaust baby!"

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