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The Chester Doles Sentencing Hearing:
An Eyewitness Account

Chester Doles receives minimum possible sentence in emotion-charged hearing; prosecutor admits political motive.

March 24, 2004
by Kevin Alfred Strom


This is something that isn't easy to write about. Chester Doles, a good man, a patriot, and a loving husband and father was just sentenced to federal prison for 70 months minus time served and minus time allowed for good behavior -- meaning he will probably be separated from his family and friends for about four more years. On Thursday, about twenty of us -- members of the Doles family, friends, and National Alliance members -- attended Chester's sentencing hearing.

Chester -- under threat of charges against his wife, who is now the sole caretaker of their eleven children -- took full responsibility for the 'crime' of having six guns on the grounds of his mountaintop home near Dahlonega, Georgia. He was targeted a year ago by agents of the Jewish-led rogue group within the US Justice Department -- the so-called Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) -- not because there was any threat from Mr. Doles, whose decade-old conviction for misdemeanors made him technically a 'felon' in the eyes of arcane federal gun laws, but because of his leadership in the National Alliance and his organizing demonstrations against illegal immigration. (Mestizo immigration, much of it illegal, is supported by Jewish groups, agribusiness interests, and powerful multinational corporations. It is rife in north Georgia and is quickly changing the face of rural Dixie into something resembling Mexico.)

The sentencing hearing took place in decaying central Atlanta's federal courthouse, a faceless grey block with a large and heavily corroded American eagle sculpture attached to its front wall. The hearing was held before Judge Richard Story, who, though he obviously endorses the multiracialist religion of tolerance for everything but the survival of our race, did seem to be somewhat bewildered at the ferocity of the prosecution of Chester for what was -- at most -- a technicality, and embarrassed by the fact that the sentencing guidelines under which all federal judges must work gave him little leeway to reduce the sentence.

Mr. Doles entered the courtroom looking hale and hearty, though his family reports that he has experienced some serious health problems -- and racially-motivated threats -- while incarcerated. He has grown a full and flowing head of hair now, medium brown with just a touch of grey near the temples. Dressed in brilliant white, he looked more like a philosopher than a prisoner.

The decision was known beforehand; a plea agreement had been made. Chester took full responsibility for the guns he didn't even own (though he had been told years before that his right to own firearms had been restored) largely because prosecutors and agents of the politically-motivated "Joint Terrorism Task Force" threatened to initiate "proceedings" against his wife if he did not.

Mr. Doles' attorney Ed Marger spent the first few minutes having all of the family members and friends who had come to see the hearing introduced by Mrs. Teresa Doles, Chester's wife, so the judge could see and hear for himself all those who had come because they believed in the integrity and good character of Chester. Among them were Dr. Charles Ellis, a stalwart National Alliance member from Alaska, and myself.

Teresa, obviously emotionally moved but well in control of herself, told the judge about their close-knit family, and how much the Doles' 11 children were dependent upon the strength and character and physical presence of their father for love, day-to-day guidance, and an example in their young lives. It was heartbreaking to hear her tell us of the indescribable loss an infant and a five-year-old feel when they cannot see Daddy anymore. She told of the depression and resentment of a teen who couldn't stand to live at home anymore with his father gone from the mountain. It was impossible not to cry at what the "Justice" Department had done to this family.

Dr. Charles Ellis, a medical doctor who specializes in childhood psychological disorders, took the stand to tell the judge of the very serious consequences that may result to children who are long separated from their fathers, and about the special circumstances of the Doles children. He also testified to Chester Doles' exemplary character and love for his family -- and also to his honesty: Chester had no idea that he was violating any law or regulation and would never have done so intentionally, because he knew that thereby he would be putting his family at risk.

A surprise witness for Chester was a Black man, writer and speaker Daryl Davis, the author of the book Klan-destine Relationships, a multiracialist book focusing on the Ku Klux Klan. Chester Doles, associated with the Klan 13 years ago, was one of the interviewees for Mr. Davis's book. Davis said that he had come to know Mr. Doles and his family quite well, and they had maintained friendly contact despite their difference in race, and widely divergent racial and political views. He believed firmly, he said, that Chester Doles posed no threat of violence or lawlessness to anyone. In the face of obvious obstacles, Mr. Davis did a very honorable thing in coming to Atlanta on Thursday.

In an emotional speech before the court, Chester apologized to the taxpayers for the burden his case had placed on them, and he choked up with tears for almost a full minute when he apologized for the pain and harm that he had caused his family. At no time did he renounce his racial beliefs. He did point out to the court that he had not engaged in any political activism for a full two months before the SWAT-style raid on his home. (The raid, incidentally, netted no more -- and no different -- firearms than could be found in many rural Georgia homes.)

He told of his love for his wife and family, describing his relationship with Teresa in Biblical language, even though he is not a religious man in the conventional sense: He said that his wife and he were truly "of one flesh." He knew that the separation has been and will be hard for his children and his wife -- and he asked that that separation be as short as the judge could allow.

He admitted his violations of the law in the past, and recounted his efforts to better himself, including his working for a college degree at the age of 42 while simultaneously being the sole support for his large family.

Chester -- and attorney Marger -- asked the court to fulfill the promise made in the plea agreement and give Chester the minimum sentence possible. He also asked the court if he might be permitted, after his release, to continue to go hunting with his boys using a bow and arrow. This last request was denied.

Prosecutor Todd Alley -- never one to miss making a career-boosting speech when media are present and it is sure to reach the right ears -- argued against Chester's sincerity (even though Alley had already signed off on the plea agreement). He also argued against the sincerity of those, like myself, who wrote letters to the court on Chester's behalf. Alley, with JTTF Special Agent Joe Thompson constantly at his shoulder, stated that "the people who wrote those letters never mentioned how they came to know Mr. Doles." (Actually, that was a lie: In my letter I specifically stated that I came to know Chester through his political activism.) Alley continued, "That's because they came to know Mr. Doles because they're members of the National Alliance." He incorrectly described the National Alliance as a "hate group" -- and, just as Thompson had earlier, falsely alleged that the Alliance was a "dangerous", "domestic terrorist" threat.

Incredibly, Alley made the fact that this was a political prosecution obvious when he said that returning Chester to his family would not serve the goals of the court or society "until he can honestly say he has given up his views." He smirked when he added that Chester must also "teach his children that hatred is not the right way, and tolerance and acceptance is the path they should take."

Alley and Thompson made an interesting pair at the prosecution table: Alley, boyish-looking and blond almost to the point of albinism, listening carefully to every word of Thompson, swarthy and goateed, looking like a dark, menacing figure out of a 1930s Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union photograph, or a younger version of Michael Chertoff, or Anton LaVey on a very bad day.

Judge Story, in passing sentence, may have been trying to do damage control after Alley's ill-timed outburst when he emphasized that Chester had every right to hold any views he pleased. He did state that Chester would face a decision when he spoke to his children about the case: To paraphrase -- with some poetic license -- the judge said Chester could either tell his children that we have a good and just political and judicial system in this country, and he ran afoul of it because he criminally broke the righteous gun laws passed by the righteous Congress of the United States of America -- or he could tell them that he was a "victim of the government."

Judge Story gave Chester Doles the lightest sentence it was in his power to give. He also vowed to ask the Bureau of Prisons to consider locating him in a prison within a day's drive of north Georgia, and to ask the Marshals to take seriously the threats that had already been made against him in jail.

JTTF operative Joe Thompson spoke only in whispers throughout the hearing and did not address the court. But later, when Dr. Ellis and I had just finished saying our good-byes to Mr. Marger downstairs, Thompson turned from the group he was with and addressed Dr. Ellis and me, asking us, in a voice loud enough to be heard everywhere in the lobby, if we were staying in Georgia. He then pointed at each of us in turn, saying "I'll be seeing you next." Most unprofessional conduct, in my opinion.

After the hearing, there was a gathering at the Doles' mountaintop home. We talked long into the evening. The mood was tinged with sadness, but there was also determination. Determination to stand together in the face of oppression. Determination to help each other get through this. And determination to give some hope and happiness to those little ones who won't be seeing Daddy for a long time.

Now, at least, there is a timeline for Chester to be returned to his wife and children. His family needs support more than ever. They are strong, but they are struggling every day, mainly from lack of money. They need friends who will remember them, not only now, but regularly, every month, every holiday, every time you can -- from now until 2008 or 2009. If you can help these good people in need, their mailing address is

Teresa Doles
P.O. Box 1532
Dahlonega, GA 30533

My letter to Judge Story:

7th March, 2004

Dear Judge Story:

I came to know Chester Doles three years ago through his political activism. But I think it's wrong that his case became politicized and I am not going to talk about politics in this letter. Chester Doles is a man whose honor, trust, hard work, and love for others puts him in that small class of men who can honestly be called exceptional. I think that even his detractors will admit that it was his loyalty to and trust in those who said they were his friends, and his trust in the legal system, including his belief in what some officials had told him, that led to his present tragic difficulties. It was not an intention to harm anyone or to flout the law.

His current circumstances -- separation from his family for over a year now, and who knows how much longer -- are tragic not just for him, but for his close-knit family and the larger community of which they are a part.

Chester Doles had turned his life around since his trouble with the law in the last decade. He was a skilled workman, gainfully employed and supporting a family of 11 children ranging in age from infancy to the later teen years. He took a raw mountain and with a lot of hard work and faith -- and very little money -- built an impressive, well-kept home. I have seen and talked with these children, Judge Story, and I can tell you that not only do they love their father with deep devotion and miss him with all their hearts, but they look up to him as a pattern and exemplar in their lives. Chester Doles was their physical, financial, and moral support. Now he is torn from their side -- for how long, we do not know, but we pray it is not very long. His loyal wife, Teresa, is carrying on as best she can with the help of family and friends; but the most important support, the rock on which everything else stood, is gone, except for a face on the other side of a wire or a distant voice on a telephone line. The family faces a very uncertain financial future. Faith in Chester's soon return is one thing that sustains them. That faith needs to be renewed, not dashed.

Chester Doles was attending school to better himself and his family, too. Everything he did was based on his love for his family and his community. Chester Doles is not a wealthy man in terms of dollars, Judge Story, but he is rich beyond measure in generosity and love: he would pay the last dollar from his own pocket if a friend was in need of help, and it would be given without a mention of repayment.

Knowing these things as I do, I know that Chester Doles did not intend to violate any law or harm his country or community in any way. Not only would he never intentionally do such a thing, but he would also never have knowingly placed his beloved family at such risk. I believe that the essential innocence of his intent should be considered when sentence is passed on him.

When I began this letter, I said that Chester Doles was exceptional. I should amplify that statement. Chester Doles is one of those men for whom honor, love, nation, and family are not just platitudes to be recited on appropriate occasions and snickered at when the cameras are off: For Chester Doles they are real, abiding, and guiding presences in his life. Through the lives of such men, sound children are raised and communities thrive. He is needed at home soon.


Kevin Alfred Strom.

The news of the hearing as described by the North Georgia Nugget follows:

Doles receives minimum sentence
By Sharon Hall
The Nugget

U.S. District Judge Richard Story sentenced Chester James Doles to serve five years and 10 months in federal prison on charges of illegal weapons possession in Atlanta federal court Thursday. Story also ordered Doles to get credit for time served; a little over one year. The sentence is at the low end of the sentencing guidelines.

Doles was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents March 7, 2003 while returning to his Winters Mountain home. After a search of his three-acre home site he was charged with six counts of weapons possession. Possession of a weapon by anyone convicted of a crime carrying more than two years in prison is a federal offense. Doles received a seven-year sentence when he was convicted of battery in Elkton, Md. for an assault on an inter-racial couple in 1993. In 1997, he pled guilty to 4th degree burglary and was sentenced to three years, but placed on probation.

The FBI's interest in Doles stems from his affiliation with the white supremacist group the National Alliance.

"This is not a case in which my client was charged with anything except possession of firearms," Doles' attorney Ed Marger said in an interview last year with The Nugget, "but from the record at the bond hearing, what was brought out was Chester Doles' involvement with the National Alliance. So the question is, what is this case all about. The FBI worked for two years on gun charges? Is that what this is really all about?"

Doles' wife, Teresa, said that at the time of her husband's arrest he had resigned as regional coordinator of the white supremacist group, returned to school at North Georgia College & State University, and was concentrating on being a father to the couple's 11 children.

Each of the six weapons possession charges stemming from the 2003 raid at his home could have netted Doles a 10-year prison term if found guilty in a jury trial. Earlier this year, on the advice of his attorney, Doles pled guilty to reduced charges carrying a possible maximum sentence of 10 years.

At the sentencing hearing before Story Thursday Teresa pled with the judge for lenience, asking him to take into consideration their children and what they would loose if their father were to be sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

Dr. Charles T. Ellis, a medical doctor of psychiatry, testified he had known Doles for four years. He told the court that having Doles home with his family as soon as possible would "serve the goals of the court and society's goals."

The prosecution pointed out that Ellis had ties to the National Alliance.

Also speaking on Doles' behalf was Daryl Davis, a black man and author of Klan-destine Relationships, an exploration of racism from inside the Ku Klux Klan. Davis met Doles while writing the book. At the time, Doles was involved with the KKK, and one of Davis' interviews.

Davis told the court Doles has changed since they first met 13 years ago. "While you are actively learning about someone else you are passively teaching them about yourself," Davis said. "Chester and I are true friends. We exchange Christmas cards, they sent me a birth announcement when Aryanna was born, I've spent time in their home. This are not the type of things a person who poses a threat to society would do."

Dole also spoke to the court before sentencing, saying he made a mistake. He said he was "doing well at the time of my arrest. I was a student at North Georgia College and planning to get my AA, and maybe by bachelor's. For what I did, there is no excuse. I apologize to the court and to the government, and to my family."

In closing statements Marger said, "I'm impressed with Chester. His ideas are very, very different from those I have, but to choose me as an attorney [Marger is Jewish] and Daryl Davis as a friend, shows that he has an open mind. I know the sentencing guidelines don't give you much leeway in sentencing, but I ask for the lowest sentence and time served."

Federal prosecutors pointed out that Doles has been in front of several judges before, and this was the first time he had said he had made a mistake. Of a number of letters submitted on Doles' behalf, the prosecution said, most of them were from National Alliance members. Up to this point, Chester Doles has tried to keep his National Alliance affiliation out of the case.

Prosecutors also pointed out that returning Doles to his family may not serve the goals of the court or society, "until he can honestly say he has given up his views and will teach his children that hatred is not the right way, and tolerance and acceptance is the path they should take."

In handing down his decision Story said that in sending people to prison those left behind are often the "most severely punished. I've read the letters sent to me, and I recognize the sense of loss, and that the sentence I hand down does not just affect Chester Doles."

Doles' children present in court, he said, "would learn a lesson about our government today," but what that lesson was depended largely on Doles. "You can teach them if they believe you have truly done something wrong, or if you are a victim of the government. If you want to truly do the right thing, instill values in your children. I challenge you today. You think as a federal judge I have a lot of power, but only you have the power to turn from people who do not trust, from people who hate."

Story said he did not know what was in Doles' heart, but that he was "a citizen of this country, and you have every right to hold these beliefs. It's one of the basic freedoms granted in the Constitution. I hope and trust you can pick up the pieces of your life and move forward, and I hope your children will as well."

Marger requested Story recommend transfer of Doles to a federal facility in Lexington, Ky. Several threats were made against Doles by fellow inmates where he is currently housed.

Winters Mountain
Source: National Vanguard

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