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Two members of the white-separatist National Alliance were sentenced Monday to prison terms for plotting to intimidate minorities into staying off the streets of Salt Lake City, an offense that a judge called "one of the ugliest things we can encounter."
Shaun A. Walker, the group's national chairman, was ordered to spend 87 months behind bars and Eric G. Egbert, an associate, was given a 42-month term.
"The ugliness of this case is the racist nature of it," U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said in meting out the punishment.
The defendants - Walker, 39, of Hillsboro, W.Va., who once lived in Utah, and Egbert, 23, of Salt Lake City - were convicted in April by a federal jury of conspiracy to interfere with civil rights and interference with a federally protected activity in connection with the 2002 and 2003 beatings in Salt Lake City of two minority men.
The sentencing of a third defendant, 30-year-old Travis D. Massey of Salt Lake City, was delayed because he was granted permission to get a new defense attorney. Massey, who has served as a spokesman in Utah for the group, was convicted of the same two counts as his co-defendants.
Prosecutors say the crimes were designed to send a message that the Salt Lake community is meant for whites. A grand jury indictment issued last year alleged that the trio conspired to provoke fights with persons perceived to be "nonwhite" to make them afraid to work, live or appear in public.
In seeking the indictment, law-enforcement authorities said hate crimes will not be tolerated.
"We're going to continue to be aggressive in this area," U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said Monday.
The indictment claims that Walker, Massey and Egbert threatened minority patrons on Dec. 31, 2002, at O'Shucks, a Salt Lake City bar.
The three then allegedly assaulted a Mexican-American bartender "because he was and had been enjoying employment," which is a federally protected activity.
According to the indictment, Massey and another man on March 15, 2003, also assaulted an American Indian man at the Port O'Call bar in Salt Lake City. That other man, Keith Cotter, testified at trial against the three defendants.
The West Virginia-based National Alliance complains of "out-of-control" immigration by minorities, an alleged Jewish monopoly of the mass media and political correctness in education.
The group was founded in 1974 by William Pierce, a former associate of the American Nazi Party and the author of The Turner Diaries novel about a race war in the United States.
The book inspired acts of domestic terror, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombers, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama organization that tracks hate crimes.
The center says the National Alliance had 1,400 members at one point, but went into decline after Pierce died in 2002, with its membership dwindling to about 200.