The way authorities tell it, the Richmond-area white supremacists got together at the home of one of the members in September with a sinister agenda.
They were supposed to discuss, authorities alleged in an affidavit, “shooting or bombing the occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues” and “conducting acts of violence against persons of the Jewish faith.”
The FBI, though, was watching the men and soon connected them with an undercover agent. Authorities say the group brokered a deal with the agent, who was posing as an arms dealer, to buy weapons, and they were arrested this week on charges that they conspired to possess guns after having been convicted of a felony.
According to affidavits in the case, the relatively modest charges foiled a nefarious plot. The men, according to the affidavits, planned a reign of terror — shooting or bombing religious institutions, robbing jewelers and armored cars, and doing some unspecified harm to gun store owners in Virginia and Oklahoma.
One of the men said in a conversation apparently recorded by authorities that he wanted to use the proceeds to “purchase land, stockpile weapons and train for the coming race war.”
Robert C. Doyle, 34, of Chester, Va., and Ronald B. Chaney III, 34, of Highland Springs, Va., were charged with gun conspiracy counts in the case. The FBI alleged in an affidavit that the men are part of a “white supremacy extremist version of the Asatru [neo-pagan] faith.” A third man — Charles D. Halderman, 30, of Richmond — was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, although it is unclear to what extent, if any, authorities think that race or religion motivated him.
The arrests were reported previously by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Attorneys for the three men did not return messages seeking comment. A man who identified himself as Chaney’s brother noted that Chaney was not charged explicitly with trying to harm people at places of worship for their race or religion.
“I do not believe that my brother would harm anyone for their race or religion in or around a place of worship,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “I have not heard him espouse any of those views; however, I’ve had very limited contact with him.”
A relative of Doyle’s declined to comment, and relatives of Halderman’s could not be reached.
Although it is unclear how federal authorities were tipped off, FBI Special Agent James Rudisill alleged in an affidavit that the bureau received information in late September that Doyle and others were going to meet at Doyle’s house to discuss shooting or bombing churches and synagogues, among other violent topics. The FBI conducted surveillance on the meeting and identified Chaney’s vehicle as being there, according to the affidavit.
The next month, the two men met with the undercover FBI agent posing as an arms dealer, and “placed an order for an automatic weapon, explosives, and a pistol with a silencer,” Rudisill wrote.
Chaney, at least, was suspicious of the undercover agent, and he was recorded saying before the meeting that he feared the FBI was trying to “infiltrate” his group, according to the affidavit. Afterward, though, his concerns were apparently allayed. On another recording, Doyle said Chaney “got a good feeling on the dude,” according to the affidavit.
Doyle twice texted the undercover agent to confirm the purchase, and on Sunday, agents moved to arrest him and Chaney, who as convicted felons are prohibited from purchasing firearms, according to the affidavit. Agents also searched Doyle’s house and recovered .45 caliber ammunition from a backpack in his vehicle, the affidavit says.
Halderman was arrested on the same day, though his alleged role in the conspiracy is less clear. On a recording, he seemed to talk about robbing a jeweler, according to an FBI affidavit.