A former member of the U.S. Army's elite presidential honor guard who is also a professed Nazi was convicted yesterday of assaulting a black offduty D.C. police officer as an Arlington gasoline station where the policeman had stopped with his white wife.
Frederick T. Verduin, 22, a member of the Third U.S. Infantry at Ft. Myer, testified during the two-day trial before an Arlington Circuit Court jury about his "disgust" with interracial marriages and dating.
Verduin said that he became disgruntled with the Army's special treatment of blacks and was guided into membership in the National Socialist White Peoples' party (formerly the American Nazi Party) by "a sergeant in the honor guard with connections in the White People's Party."
The presidential honor guard is a crack 18-member unit which performs at parades and ceremonies such as White House functions, at the Tomb of the Unknown and at Arlington National Cemetery funerals. Verduin was quickly removed from the guard when someone told Army officials of his Nazi affiliation and his security clearance was revoked, an Army official testified at the trial.
Verduin was convicted by Arlington General District Court Judge Richard Corman in October of assault and battery on Officer Edward L. Threat, and breaking the police officer's eye-glasses. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
Verduin appealed Corman's decision to the Circuit Court. The five-member jury yesterday convicted Verduin of assault and battery and sentenced him to a $1,000 fine.
Earlier in the day, Judge Charles Duff dismissed charges of breaking Threat's eyeglasses because he said there was not enough evidence to show the glasses were broken by Verduin or one of the other two Nazis in the fight. Duff, who has the power to reduce a sentence, said he will impose sentence on Verduin on Jan. 13.
As a result of his party affiliation and the first conviction, Verduin said he has been demoted twice, from E-4 which is similar to the rank of corporal, to E-2, which is a private.
Verduin is also under investigation by Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander, an army officer testified, although it is not against Army regulations to be a Nazi. Only membership in organizations attempting to overthrow the government violently is prohibited.
Verduin testified that he became peeved with the Army because black soldiers were disciplined less often than whites allowed to wear hair longer and were deficient in "general upholding of standards." He then joined the white supremeacist party on the advice of a sergeant, he said.
"I always considered myself to be patriotic," testified Verduin, who wore his dress blue Army uniform. "And the National Socialist White People's Party was the only patriotic organization."
To correct America's race, problem, Verduin suggested under cross-examination that the country "revert to laws we had 50 years ago. For instance 30 years ago in Virginia this couple (the Threats) would have been arrested for walking down the street together."
Verduin also testified he had two black roommates in the Army and had no problems with them.
Verduin's conviction stemmed from an incident Sept. 3 at the Redhead Gasoline Station, 2520 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, across the street from the national headquarters of the White People's Party.
According to Threat, he and his a shopping trip. Mrs. Threat walked stopped in the station to get fuel after wife, Karin, and their two children past another car in the station, which two Nazis were sitting, to get a soda from a vending machine.
As she passed the car one of the occupants yelled at her, "More power to the white people, you nigger-loving bitch," Mrs. Threat testified. She said she ignored the remark. On the way back to her car one of the Nazis repeated the remark and Mrs. Threat replied, "Shut up," and that she didn't want to have anything to do with them. One of the men then threw a soda on Mrs. Threat, she said.
At this point, Threat, who had been pumping gas into his car, ran to his wife's side and told the men to leave her alone, he said. The two men jumped from the car and started beating Threat and Verduin soon joined them, both Threats testified.
But Verduin testified he had merely walked across the street to the station to get a soft drink after having been to the Nazi rally earlier. He said he heard a woman scream, "You racist bastard," as he was getting the soda and then he saw the fight.
Verduin ran to the fracas and then pushed Threat away from the men to stop the fight, he testified. The half dozen times he hit Threat were in self defense, he testified.
Verduin maintain his innocence after the trial and said he doesn't know how he will pay the fine from his monthly Army salary of about $300.