Wednesday, January 23, 2002
JDL Leaders Plead Not Guilty in Bomb Plot; Lawyer Says It Was Entrapment
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
Jewish Defense League Chairman Irv Rubin and fellow leader Earl Krugel pled not guilty yesterday to federal charges of conspiring to bomb a Culver City mosque and a field office of an Arab-American congressman, and their attorneys said the men were set up by a power-hungry informant working with the FBI.
Prosecutors allege that Rubin and Krugel, the group’s West Coast coordinator, planned to bomb the King Fahd Mosque and the San Clemente office of U.S. Rep. Darrell E. Issa, R-Vista, on Dec. 13.
Rubin and Krugel were arrested on Dec. 11 after the FBI’s confidential informant dropped off explosive powder, the final component required for a pipe bomb, at Krugel’s house, according to the indictment. Krugel allegedly was to build the bomb in his garage Dec. 12 and the informant was to bomb the targets the next day. Rubin allegedly approved the bombing plans and helped facilitate the gathering of the explosive materials.
In addition to the two charges of conspiracy to manufacture and detonate bombs, Rubin and Krugel are charged with related conspiracy and attempted arson counts. Krugel is also charged with unlawful possession of a Sten 9 millimeter Mark V machine gun.
As a result of all the charges, Rubin, 56, faces a maximum possible sentence of two life terms plus 75 years, and Krugel, 59, faces a maximum penalty of two life terms and 95 years.
Dressed in pink prison clothes, Rubin and Krugel both said “not guilty” when asked by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert N. Block how they would plead. Rubin blew a kiss to his wife, Shelly, before being led away.
Both are being held in custody after having been denied bail last month. Attorneys for the defense said they would request bail at a hearing, currently unscheduled, before trial begins.
Trial is set for March 19 and U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew has been assigned the case.
A reported 10 meetings between the defendants and informant date back to mid-October when Krugel told the informant that Arabs needed a wake-up call and that the JDL needed to do something to one of their “filthy” mosques, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Mary P. Hogan. The affidavit says Rubin said the JDL needed to let people know they were alive in a “militant way.”
Rubin’s attorney Peter Morris said the FBI informant, who he named as Danny Gilles, lied to the government and “cooked up the bomb plot” because he wanted to “take Irv out of the leadership of the JDL.” He said the FBI and Gilles created the bomb plan and that Rubin and Kruger’s arrests were a matter of entrapment.
“Gilles thought he could be the head and run the show,” Morris said at a press conference after the arraignment yesterday. “Danny Gillis used the FBI and government for his own purposes.”
Prosecuting attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to name Gilles as the informant but said the informant contacted the FBI to notify the government of JDL’s alleged plan. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Jessner, who is prosecuting the case, declined comment on the defense’s allegation of entrapment by the FBI.
Krugel’s attorney, Mark Werksman, said his client and Rubin have never been involved with “anything close to this level of violence.” He said Kruger is a dental hygienist whose most violent act was throwing eggs at skinheads at Nazi rallies.
Morris said Gilles is not a member of the JDL, and that his name was found on the FBI tapes that he and fellow counsel have been listening to.
Rubin’s wife Shelley brought her husband’s passport to the court yesterday and said she was willing to surrender it to gain bail, as authorities reportedly feel the men might flee.
“They are good and decent people who believe in the law,” Shelly Rubin said. “I have no doubt they’ll be proven innocent.”
Brett Stone, the JDL’s media information officer, said the group and all its members “stand behind Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel 100 percent” and that they were confident the two will be cleared of the charges.
“When the truth comes out, you will find that this is clearly a politically motivated prosecution,” Stone said. “...The government can arrest Irv Rubin, they can arrest 100 Irv Rubins, but another Jew will step up and take their place.”
Stone, who claimed to having been member of the JDL for almost 30 years, added that Gilles was not a member of the JDL, despite the fact that Gilles set up an unauthorized website claiming affiliation with the group’s San Diego chapter.
Stone said he met Gillis only once in the summer of 1999 at a protest at a Pat Buchanan presidential fundraiser in La Pinata. That was Gillis’ first time at a JDL protest and he was introduced as being new, although he didn’t participate in the protest, Stone said.
“All he did was ask questions,” Stone said. “He wanted to know if the Jewish Defense League wanted to sell drugs. He was telling everybody that he had this knowledge of explosives. He was a meshugganah the one time that I met him and I’m surprised that Irv has been in contact with him. I was unaware that he was still a factor. He is definitely not a member of the Jewish Defense League.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company