Federal judge releases NJ man in neo-Nazi plot but won’t let public know why
A New Jersey man accused of coordinating a neo-Nazi group’s plot to vandalize synagogues and telling FBI agents that he fantasized about killing black people at a mall has been freed from jail several months after his arrest.
Richard Tobin, 19, was released on $100,000 bond last Wednesday, according to Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. A federal magistrate ordered Tobin to remain under house arrest, prohibited him from accessing the internet and barred him from having any contact with current or former members of the neo-Nazi group, called The Base, and another group called Atomwaffen Division, court records show.
The records don’t explain why U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Williams in Camden agreed to set bond for Tobin, who was arrested by the FBI in November. The magistrate sealed court records related to Tobin’s bond request.
A criminal complaint said Tobin was a member of a “white racially motivated violent extremist group” that has "proclaimed war” against minority groups in the U.S. The complaint doesn’t name the group, but its description matches The Base.
From his home in Brooklawn, Tobin communicated online with other members of The Base and directed them to vandalize synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin last year, the complaint alleges. He told investigators that he had launched “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to the deadly pogrom in 1938 when Nazis looted and burned synagogues and Jewish-owned homes and stores in Germany.
Tobin also told FBI agents that he was “triggered by the state of the country” and recounted a time when he became enraged at seeing large crowds of black people at a mall in Edison, New Jersey.
“That day, he had a machete in his car and he wanted to ‘let loose’ with it,” the complaint says.
Yousef Barasneh, a Wisconsin man, was arrested and charged separately in January with spray painting swastikas, The Base’s symbol and anti-Semitic words on a synagogue in Racine, Wisconsin, in September.
The arrests of Barasneh and Tobin were part of a broader FBI investigation of The Base and Atomwaffen Division. Both white supremacist groups have embraced “accelerationism,” a fringe philosophy that promotes mass violence to fuel society’s collapse.
In January, the FBI arrested three alleged members of The Base in Maryland and Delaware ahead of a gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia. Two of them discussed “the planning of violence” at the rally, prosecutors said. Federal judges in Maryland have repeatedly rejected requests by the three men to be released from jail while awaiting trial, concluding they pose a danger to the community.
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