White supremacist pleads innocent to burning black family’s home
BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK AND JON SEIDEL Sun-Times Media May 31, 2012 10:48AM
Avowed white supremacist Brian James Moudry appears in federal court in Chicago on Thursday, May 31, 2012. | Courtroom sketch by Tom Gianni for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:43AM
He sat dressed in an orange jumpsuit, flanked by gray-suited FBI agents, waiting in the federal courtroom to see a judge. Three words were tattooed in Olde English clear across the back of his shaved white scalp: “Blue eyed devil.”
Brian Moudry, a self-avowed white supremacist from Joliet with a history of hate crimes, awaited the arrival of the federal defender who would represent him against accusations he burned his black neighbors, eight of them children, out of their rented house in 2007.
She entered, sat close at Moudry’s side and began to talk to him. MiAngel Cody, the only black woman in the courtroom, then accepted Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s appointment to defend Moudry, who couldn’t afford an attorney. She told the judge he’d plead innocent to the three federal charges, two of which carry a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.
Cody wouldn’t comment after the hearing about her client, whose arms, neck and face are covered with racist tattoos. The attorney, who serves on the board of a non-profit that mentors young black lawyers, spelled out her name and excused herself to another hearing.
Moudry was led away in handcuffs and ankle shackles. The judge ordered him held without bail after Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy DePodesta called him a flight risk and threat to the community.
Federal prosecutors say Moudry set the fire in the home rented by a black family as they slept in the early morning hours of June 17, 2007, a house on the same block where he lived.
They would not comment on the delay between the fire and Moudry’s arrest Wednesday on federal arson and civil rights charges, nor on when the federal investigation began. They also gave no clues about how the investigation led to Moudry.
After the fire in 2007, Joliet police arrested a Des Plaines man who was on Moudry’s property. That man passed out after a party at Moudry’s house and was identified in the alley as the man who set the blaze, his attorney John M. Kogut said, by a little girl of about 12 who stayed awake that night on her computer.
A trial for the man was set for March 10, 2008, but instead of picking a jury, Will County prosecutors dropped the charges. Moudry was listed as a witness in the case, according to court documents.
After the fire, the woman and her family moved away, according to federal prosecutors. She declined to comment Thursday during a brief telephone conversation.
None of them attended the hearing. Neither did anyone supporting Moudry.
A message left at his mother’s home was not returned.
An ex-con who previously served time for a hate crime against black people, Moudry faces pending weapons charges in Will County Circuit Court; he pleaded innocent in April to carrying a gun and returns to court on June 26, according to the court records.
In 2005, he was interviewed on rockmetalbands.com about a Hatemonger Warzine that he edited and self-published. Dubbing himself the editor “Rev. Brian ‘Warhead von Jewgrinder’ Moudry,” he wrote that he was half Irish, half Czech and had been involved in the white-power movement since he was about 17 or 18. In the same interview he claimed to be a “reverend and state leader for Illinois” for “The Creativity Movement, formerly known as World Church of the Creator,” the white supremacist group led by Matt Hale.
Hale — the onetime self-proclaimed Pontifex Maximus of the hate group — is serving a 40-year prison sentence after being convicted of asking a follower in 2002 to murder U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow after she upheld the appeals court ruling in a civil case tied to Hale’s group. The follower was really an informant working for the FBI.
In 2005, FBI agents interviewed Moudry after the grisly slaying of Lefkow’s husband and mother in Chicago. Those slayings ended up being the work of a disgruntled man who had appeared in Lefkow’s courtroom on another matter unrelated to Hale and his followers, authorities said.
Moudry spent time in the Will County Jail jail after a 1999 arrest in New Lenox on aggravated assault and hate crime charges, accused of fighting with two black men. Court records show he was convicted of the hate crime.
After his release, Moudry led white-power demonstrations. His house was hit by drive-by gunfire after a 2004 rally.
In 2010, he threatened to blow up the truck of a black mail carrier, upset his mail had been stopped.
His tiny yellow house was quiet Thursday. No one answered the door, on which a sign hung:
“English spoken here.”
Contributing: Mary Kate Knorr and Natasha Korecki