Supremacist gets 40 years in death plot

Hale hired FBI informant to kill U.S. judge Lefkow who'd ruled against him

April 07, 2005|By Matt O'Connor | Matt O'Connor,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CHICAGO - White supremacist Matthew Hale was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison by a federal judge who called him "extremely dangerous" and said his solicitation to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow was "an extreme, egregious attack against the rule of law."

Lefkow is the same judge whose husband and mother were murdered five weeks ago by a deranged man with no connection to Hale.

His voice often cracking with emotion, Hale maintained his innocence during a rambling, two-hour speech, accusing the government of manufacturing evidence, his former lawyer of incompetence and the news media of defaming him.

Hale quoted from Thomas Jefferson, recalled how his father, a retired police officer, instilled in him a respect for the law, and ended his remarks by reciting from "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"I hope the day will come when Judge Lefkow knows this is a lie," Hale, acting as his own attorney, said in a courtroom ringed with security. "This is a horrible miscarriage of justice."

But U.S. District Judge James T. Moody was not swayed and found - for the first time in Chicago's federal court - that Hale's solicitation to kill Lefkow was a crime of terrorism under federal sentencing guidelines.

Moody then imposed the maximum 40-year term, saying that Hale's wrongdoing "undermines the judiciary's central role in our society and strikes at the very core of our system of government."

A federal jury convicted Hale last April of soliciting his security chief, secretly working undercover for the FBI, to kill Lefkow because she ordered his supremacist group to change its name after losing a trademark-infringement lawsuit.

Moody said Hale surrounded himself with troubled individuals to "feed his enormous ego" and manipulated them "to do his dirty work."

"Mr. Hale had absolutely no qualms about taking the life of Judge Lefkow and others as long as he could appear to not be involved and had credible deniability," Moody said.

Hale, 33, of East Peoria, Ill., could be eligible for release after 34 years.

Outside the courtroom, his mother, Evelyn Hutcheson, challenged a reporter to "actually tell what Matt said in there because Matt is the only one ... that spoke the truth."

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing Newspaper.

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