A neo-Nazi who helped lead a campaign to intimidate journalists and Jewish activists in three states was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in federal prison, the longest prison sentence given to plot participants .
A jury in September convicted Caleb Cole on five felony counts related to the distribution of swastika-laden posters to journalists and employees of the Anti-Defamation League in Washington state, Arizona and Florida in early 2020. Posters warned: “You have been visited. By your local Nazis,” “Your actions have consequences,” and “We are watching.”
US District Judge John C. Cognore of Seattle handed down the sentence after hearing victims who said they were afraid to respond to threats and install costly home security systems. Miri Cypers, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, describes taking toys from her yard before fleeing to a hotel so that Cole and his followers don’t know they have a daughter.
US Attorney Nick Brown credits the victims with facing Cole in court: “His courage has resulted in a federal prison sentence today,” he said.
The judge noted that 26-year-old Cole had tried to operate under the anonymity of the Internet, and when journalists including Chris Ingalls of Seattle’s King-TV, “he tried to silence her through threats and intimidation.” Took a lot of pain.”
“To function as a democratic society, we need credible and truthful journalism,” Cognore said.
Unlike others convicted in the case, Cole expressed no remorse, which helped explain why his sentence was more than twice as long as that of the conspiracy’s other leader, Cameron Shea. Upon his sentencing, Shia told the court, “I cannot put into words the guilt I feel about this fear and pain.”
Cole, most recently of Montgomery, Texas, was the leader of a hate group called the Atomwaffen Division. He and four others faced charges including conspiracy, mailing threatening communications and interfering with federally protected activity.
Cole had been on the radar of law enforcement since at least 2018, when he was stopped at US customs on his return from a trip to Europe. Officers searched his cellphone and found photographs of him at the gates of Auschwitz, or at various sites including displaying a white supremacist flag and performing a Nazi salute.
Investigators said he became the leader of the atomwaffen division after the arrest of another leader on explosives charges.
In 2019, Seattle police obtained an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” against him, confiscating nine guns from his home. He added that Cole had “moved from endorsing hate to now taking proactive steps or preparing for an impending ‘race war’.”
Investigators said those moves included organizing paramilitary-style “hate camps” in Nevada and Washington.
After the weapon was confiscated, Cole moved to Texas, where he found four guns, including another Atomwaffen member, marijuana and three assault rifles in a speeding car.
Cole’s grandmother, Joanne Powell, pleaded for leniency from the judge on Tuesday, insisting that her grandson was a good man who made some “bad decisions” and never meant to hurt anyone.
“I beg you not to look at him with contempt for his political views,” she said. “Caleb is not a violent or mean person.”
Cole’s lawyer, Christopher Black, insisted that he was not in fact the leader of the conspiracy, and that the intimidation campaign was Shia’s idea. He acknowledged that Cole made the posters and suggested efforts to do so, but said other accused had done similar things.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods disagreed, saying Cole differed from the other defendants for his lack of remorse.
“It was his identity, the work of his life so far: hatred, targeting people to spread terror,” Woods said. “And it worked.”
The other two defendants were Johnny Roman Garza of Queen Creek, Arizona, who was sentenced to 16 months for pasting a poster on the bedroom window of a Jewish journalist, and Taylor Parker-Dippe of Spring Hill, Florida, who received There is no jail time for attempting to deliver a flyer but left it at the wrong address. Parker-Dippe was severely abused by her father and stepfather and hid her transgender identity from her co-conspirators and the judge found that she had suffered greatly.