Thursday, June 25, 2009
BY PETER J. SAMPSON
TO ORIGINAL STORY
Harold “Hal” Turner, the controversial internet radio host and blogger from North Bergen, was ordered detained Thursday by a federal magistrate on charges of threatening to kill three federal appeals court judges in Chicago for upholding a ban on handguns.
“I am concerned about the defendant’s dangerousness to the community,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp during a hearing in Newark a day after Turner’s arrest by the FBI.
The government and Turner’s attorney, Michael Orozco, offered the judge a bail package that included confining Turner to his Paterson Plank Road apartment, restricting his access to the Internet, and having his mother post her Pennsylvania home as collateral for a $200,000 bond.
But Shipp said he was not satisfied that the security for the bond had been sufficiently vetted by court personnel and rejected the bail package, telling Orozco he could reapply.
At the same time, the judge granted the government’s request to transfer Turner to Chicago for further proceedings in the case.
Wearing a grey T-shirt and blue jeans, his wrists and ankles locked in shackles, Turner, 47, appeared surprised when Assistant U.S. Attorney L. Judson Welle told the judge that his release would pose “a great danger” to the community.
Turner, who for years has pushed the limits of constitutionally protected speech, may have crossed that line in Internet postings June 2 and 3 allegedly threatening the judges in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb.
The postings, in which Turner said the judges “deserved to be killed,” included their photographs, work address and a picture of the building where they work, Welle said.
Turner also made reference to a judge in the same district whose husband and mother were murdered in 2005, Welle said.
“Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn’t get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed,” Turner allegedly wrote on his blog.
Killing the judges would “send a message” to other judges that they must “obey the constitution or die,” Welle said, referring to Turners’ postings.
During a search of Turner’s home, agents recovered three handguns, a shotgun and 350 rounds of ammunition, Welle told the judge. Orozco said the weapons are all licensed.
Turner, who bills his internet radio network as “the last bastion of true free speech” in the U.S. media, admitted to agents that he would be responsible if someone acted on his postings, the prosecutor said.
After the hearing, Orozco acknowledged that Turner has called for the murder of judges and lawmakers, among others, in the past, and that in the wake of the slayings of an abortion doctor and a guard at Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the landscape appears to have changed.
“Clearly this is a First Amendment issue and whether he dances too close to the line is an issue to be determined by the courts,” Orozco said.
If convicted of threatening to assault or murder the judges, Turner faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
LINK TO THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT
This is it...this is the "I told you so" that I have been waiting for. This is the icing on the cake.
In 2005, Judge Joan Lefkow entered her Chicago home to find her husband and elderly mother had been assassinated. The next day, racist shock-jock, Hal Turner, posted a picture of Judge Lefkow with the bold caption, "GOTCHA." Over the last four years, Turner has repeatedly told others on his website that the Judge's family was killed because of him:
"Do you know why those law enforcement agencies watch me so closely? Because they KNOW I hurt people; they just can;t prove it.
"THey KNOW homes and businesses have been fire bombed becuase of me;they just can;t prove it.
"They KNOW a federal judges family was killed in Chicago because of me;they just can't prove it." (Hal Turner, January, 2007)
Hal Turner fell silent in a Conneticut courtroom a couple of days ago as he stood before a judge on charges of inciting violence. His website fell silent today as he was arrested yesterday by the FBI.
It took four years of putting up with Hal Turner's threats and calls for violence. Four very long years - but now, maybe we can say: