Officials say Osceola hate group planned, trained for race war

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — New documents obtained by WFTV show detailed information about an alleged white supremacist group whose compound was raided in Osceola County over the weekend.

Marcus Faella, 39, Patricia Faella, 36, Paul Willard Jackson, 25, Kent Ryan McLellan, 22, Diane Stephanie Stevens, 28, Mark McGowan Jr., 29, and Jennifer McGowan, 25, were arrested over the weekend, all charged with hate crimes.

DOCUMENT:  Report on hate crimes suspects' activities
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Three others were arrested shortly after, including Richard Adam Stockdale, 23, Dustin Ryan Perry, 20, and Christopher John Brooks, 26.

According to the police affidavit, Marcus Faella is a member of a group called American Front (AF), a militia-styled, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, skinhead organization.

The arrests were made after investigators uncovered plots to create violent chaos in central Florida, including targets like Orlando City Hall, "so the media would report on it and bring new members."  The information came from an informant who had infiltrated the group for two years, reporting everything he saw back to the FBI.

The affidavit claims, Faella “has been planning and preparing the AF for what he believes to be an inevitable race war.”

WFTV learned that investigators believe the group was involved in paramilitary training that included weapons like AK-47s, and they also trained in hand-to-hand combat. According to the police affidavit, Faella was conducting those training exercises, along with other members.

“Faella views himself and the other members of the AF as the protectors of the white race,” the warrant states.

According to the affidavit, Faella believes the race war will take place in the next few years, and his intentions are to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities.

During their investigation, police found that Faella had fortified the property, reinforcing walls and cutting firing ports into the sides of his trailer.

The report also describes how some alleged members are convicted felons who didn’t want to be caught carrying guns, so they carried sharpened screwdrivers instead.

And the group is also accused of attempting to make ricin, a chemical considered a weapon of mass destruction.

WFTV has learned the charges, which include paramilitary training with intent to cause a civil disorder and conspiracy, each carry a possible five-year sentence. The sentences can be even longer when a hate crime enhancer is added.

Neighbors said they heard the commotion as some of the arrests were made over the weekend.

"Loud booms ... and the (words) 'Sheriff's Department search warrant,'" said neighbor Dale Koehler.

The mother of one suspect said agents are wrong about what's been going on at a remote piece of property.

Mark McGowan Jr.'s mother, Norma Black, spoke with WFTV reporter Nancy Alvarez about a wooded area in St. Cloud that she said was a meeting place for bonfires and target practice.

"What did they do out there on that property?" asked Alvarez.

"They just go out there to have fun," said Black.

During the interview, Black insisted her son was not violent but admitted he shares her views about minorities.

"I don't like illegals, and I don't like these troublesome blacks," said Black.

"Is your son a white supremacist?" Alvarez asked.

"No, none of them are," said Black. "They don't belong to any group. It's just friends having fun."

The AF group's leader was killed in California last year. Since then, much of the group's operation has moved to Florida, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A spokesperson said they've tracked suspects Mark and Patricia Faella for years, as allegedly violent white supremacists.

"He was the head of the Melbourne Florida chapter of another very violent skinhead group, this one called Confederate Hammerskins. So Faella is a movement guy. He's someone who's been around for the better part of 20 years," said the spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

WFTV found out that there are more than 1,000 known hate groups across the U.S.

Fifty-five of the groups are in Florida and 13 of them are in central Florida.

In 2010, there were 149 hate-related crimes reported statewide. That was up slightly from the year before.

Crimes based on race made up the majority of cases with 46 percent, followed by crimes based on sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity.

The Ninth Circuit State Attorney will review the investigation and will file the appropriate criminal charges.

On Monday, Patricia Faella, already out on bond, responded quickly when WFTV showed up at her property.

She told our crews to leave and posted a "no trespassing" sign.

WFTV learned on Tuesday that arrest warrants have been issued for two other men, Verlin Lewis and Dylan Rettenmaier, who are not in custody. Investigators said they could be arrested at any time, while other members of the group remain at the Osceola County jail.