BRIDGEPORT, Conn.—Two reputed white supremacists and a black associate collaborated on a plot to sell grenades and guns to a member of a national white supremacist group, according to prosecutors who put the men on trial this week.
But the buyer was really a government informant who often wore hidden video and audio recording equipment, producing hours of what prosecutors say is incriminating evidence.
Jurors, who have watched some of the videos and listened to audio excerpts during the federal trial, are to return to court Monday and Tuesday, then take a break until Nov. 29 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
On trial are Kenneth Zrallack of Ansonia, Alexander DeFelice of Milford and David Sutton of Milford. They’ve pleaded not guilty to a host of firearms and conspiracy charges.
The secretly recorded conversations show Sutton, who is black, and DeFelice joking about how an African-American was doing an illegal weapons deal with a white supremacist. The discussion started after undercover informant Joseph Anastasio expressed reservations about Sutton’s involvement—in keeping with his cover of being a member of the Imperial Klans of America.
“No, Dave ain’t black,” DeFelice says.
“Yes I am,” Sutton says.
“Dave’s Canadian,” DeFelice jokes.
“Whatever,” Anastasio responds.
“French Canadian,” Sutton says.
Sutton then holds up his arm and says, “No. I don’t call this extra crispy.”
then says, “You call it caramelized,” and laughter erupts.
Prosecutors say Zrallack, 29, is the leader of the Connecticut-based Battalion 14 white supremacist group, formerly known as the Connecticut White Wolves. They say he was looking to gain national prominence and wanted to commit a “lone wolf” act that would create chaos.
An expert on white supremacist groups, Robert Nill, told prosecutors that the Connecticut White Wolves claimed to have been founded on April 20, Adolf Hitler’s birthday, in 2002, and Zrallack formed the successor Battalion 14 in 2009. Court documents also say defendants in the case talked about their desires to kill President Barack Obama and leave an explosive-filled basketball at a New Haven playground so blacks would be killed.
DeFelice, 33, is a Battalion 14 member who knows how to make explosives, prosecutors said. He and Zrallack are being detained during the trial, which is expected to end in early December.
Sutton, 46, is not a member of any white supremacist group, but he lived near DeFelice and has known him for years, according to court testimony. Prosecutors say Sutton helped DeFelice make three explosive grenades that Anastasio bought for $3,000 last January and had offered to dispose of the grenades if the deal fell through, knowing that DeFelice was a white supremacist.
Authorities say they believe Sutton’s main motivation was getting DeFelice to broker a sale of semiautomatic firearms to Sutton’s brother-in-law, a deal that never happened.
Lawyers for Zrallack and DeFelice declined to comment on the allegations. Sutton’s lawyer, Frank Riccio II, said Sutton maintains his innocence and expects to be vindicated. Sutton declined to comment.
The U.S. attorney’s office says DeFelice faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted of all counts, while Zrallack and Sutton each face up to five years in prison.
Two other men, Edwin Westmoreland and William Bolton, both of Stratford, have pleaded guilty to similar charges and await sentencing.
Prosecutors say the criminal activities began to surface in late 2008 and early 2009, when DeFelice and Bolton told Anastasio that they had plans to rob a man who assembled and kept a large number of firearms in his apartment. The robbery never was carried out.
Two months later, DeFelice, Bolton and Westmoreland sold Anastasio a sawed-off rifle for $300, a federal indictment says.
In November 2009, Westmoreland sold Anastasio a rifle and a shotgun for $350, court documents say.
And last January, authorities say, DeFelice finished assembling the three explosive grenades. Prosecutors say Anastasio paid DeFelice $3,000, and DeFelice gave $100 of the money to Westmoreland. Anastasio gave the firearms and grenades to federal authorities.
Prosecutors say Zrallack made several hundred dollars off the sale of the firearms to Anastasio, and he took a cut of the sale of the grenades.
Anastasio went to Zrallack’s home after buying the grenades and gave him a share of the money that DeFelice had set aside, prosecutors say. The two shared a drink and called out “88,” which is a code for “Heil Hitler,” prosecutors say. H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
Federal agents later obtained a search warrant for Zrallack’s home and found white supremacist evidence, including a Hitler poster, Nazi flags and photos of Zrallack holding weapons and posing as Hitler. They say they also found white supremacist videos and photos on Zrallack’s computer.
Anastasio also testified that he, Zrallack and several others waived Nazi flags near an outdoor Jewish menorah lighting ceremony in Fairfield in December 2009.
“My credibility was on the line with these people,” Anastasio testified. “I wanted to show them that I had the same beliefs as them, which I don’t.”
Anastasio said the Fairfield incident made him “sick” and “upset.”
He said he was also concerned once when he went to DeFelice’s home and found DeFelice and Westmoreland removing gunpowder from shotgun shells. Anastasio said he couldn’t believe they were smoking cigarettes around explosives while DeFelice’s children were in the house.
“I just didn’t want to be around there,” Anastasio said.