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The leader of a Detroit Jewish group said a Toledo man who was arrested on charges of possessing counterfeit goods and weapons kept a notebook that listed both the Jewish organization and the NAACP’s Detroit branch, drawing alarm from Detroit community leaders over the suspected neo-Nazi sympathizer’s intent.
In the weeks after the arrest of Richard Schmidt, FBI agents shared with Scott Kaufman some of the pages in a personal notebook found Dec. 21 during a search of Schmidt’s West Toledo home that made reference to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and listed its leaders.
Among the handwritten pages were notes that Schmidt allegedly made about the NAACP, including directions that would get him from Toledo to its Detroit headquarters, Mr. Kaufman said Friday.
Federal agents took a videotape of a 2005 national meeting of the National Socialist Movement, a white supremist group, and a national list of Jewish-owned businesses during the raid of Schmidt’s home. Authorities also raided Spindletop Sports Zone, a sports and memorabilia store at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green owned by Schmidt, four cargo trailers that he kept in the mall parking lot, and three vehicles.
The notebook with information about the Jewish Federation and NAACP coupled with items that show Schmidt may be sympathetic to the causes of neo-Nazis, as well as the arsenal of guns and ammunition he kept have raised fears among community leaders in Detroit. Mr. Kaufman, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation, stopped short of using “target list” for the pages in the notebook that FBI agents shared with him, but he said it is a logical conclusion that one could draw.
“Does that cause concern ... ? Of course it does. Does it mean that he was planning to attack us? I don’t know,” Mr. Kaufman told The Blade.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the NAACP’s Detroit branch, said the information in the notebook that FBI agents shared with him in January was “disturbing.”
“He appeared to be tracking community leaders in Detroit and I was one of the ones whose name appeared on a suspected target list,” Mr. Anthony said in a statement. “I along with my family and many others in the community are grateful for the investigative work done by the Ohio FBI and the United States Department of Justice.”
FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson would not confirm that agents met with the community leaders.
Schmidt, 47, is being held in the Lucas County jail. A U.S. magistrate has denied requests for his release on bond during hearings in federal court in Toledo.
Andrew Hart, the public defender listed in court documents as Schmidt’s representative, was not immediately available.
He was indicted Jan. 16 by a federal grand jury for illegally possessing 18 firearms, body armor, and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition. He also is accused of trafficking in counterfeit clothing marked with brand names such as NFL, Nike, Reebok, and Louis Vuitton. He has pleaded not guilty.
Because Schmidt has a felony conviction for voluntary manslaughter, he cannot legally possess or own firearms and ammunition.
The conviction stems from a shooting on Aug. 21, 1989, when Schmidt, then 24, drew a pistol in a street fight with three men after a traffic dispute at Glendale and South Detroit avenues. He shot and killed a Hispanic man and wounded two others after the victims and Schmidt got out of their cars on Lombard Avenue. He pleaded guilty in 1990 to voluntary manslaughter in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the homicide of Anthony Torres, 20, and served at least 12 years of a 10 to 25-year prison sentence.
Mr. Kaufman said the fact that the victim in the 1989 shooting was a minority is troubling, especially when one looks at the video of the white supremist group gathering that agents took from Schmidt’s home.
In October, 2005, the same year of the national meeting in the video, a march thorough a North Toledo neighborhood by the National Socialist Movement incited a riot.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199