Hate-group Organizer Given 8-year Prison Term

Posted: March 20, 1998

Mark William Thomas, a veteran organizer of white hate groups in Pennsylvania, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison. Federal prosecutors called him a ``Pied Piper'' for disaffected young men whom he recruited to rob banks to fund white-supremacist activities.

A tearful Thomas, 47, implored U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter for leniency, telling the judge that he had renounced his racist views, ``especially the anti-Semitism that I long espoused.''

``There is nothing that I could ever say to justify myself to you,'' said Thomas, a tall, gangly man with a brush mustache dressed in an orange prison sweat suit.

Buckwalter noted that Thomas had cooperated with federal prosecutors after his guilty plea in February 1997, but that his cooperation was limited mostly to their case against Michael William Brescia, one of the group of young bank robbers whom Thomas admitted recruiting for the Aryan Republican Army.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Schwartz acknowledged Thomas' cooperation and asked Buckwalter to sentence Thomas to less than the 10- to 12 1/2-year prison term recommended under sentencing guidelines. But Schwartz also said he felt a significant prison term was justified because of Thomas' insidious influence on young people.

Buckwalter agreed, telling Thomas that ``I still can't believe what you did to these kids.''

Thomas thanked Buckwalter after hearing the 96-month, no-parole sentence. As he was led away in cuffs, Thomas turned toward another prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Goldman, and said: ``Mr. Goldman, I meant every word I said. I'm sorry.''

Thomas was indicted in January 1997 with Brescia, 25, of the city's Andorra section; Peter Kevin Langan, 38, of Columbus, Ohio; Scott Anthony Stedeford, 29, of Ardmore; and Kevin William McCarthy, 20, of Bustleton.

All five were charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery involving varying roles in a group the FBI has linked to 22 Midwestern bank robberies between 1992 and 1995. More than $250,000 was stolen for white hate groups around the country.

All five pleaded guilty. The others have already been sentenced: Brescia to almost five years, Langan to 55 years, Stedeford to 20 years, and McCarthy to five years.

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