The federal government says Jeffrey Richards is a self-proclaimed white supremacist who makes bombs, sell drugs, owns a small arsenal of guns and holds membership in an outlaw biker gang.
In a photo posted on Facebook, Richards holds his right arm up in a Nazi-style salute between two friends, one wearing a T-shirt with a Confederate flag image and the other holding a Viking horn.
Yet, his defenders say the 29-year-old Niagara Falls man is mentally troubled, possesses a heart of gold and is willing to do anything to please others, even if it leads him into bad company.
“He is not a racist," Kathleen Kephart said of her son, "but I won’t say he’s not prejudiced.”
The year-old case against Richards in U.S. District Court in Buffalo comes at a time when hate group members and supporters are often linked to horrific crimes that have Americans concerned about their safety in public places.
Is Richards an agent of this hatred?
He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he possessed a homemade bomb, eight guns, cocaine, marijuana, more than 100 grams of a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, and drug paraphernalia to allegedly operate a "significant" drug trafficking business. The apartment he shared with his mother at a public housing project served as the depot for his operation, according to the government.
Richards was not charged with committing hate crimes, but prosecutors were concerned enough about the hate literature and symbols found in a raid at the apartment that they alerted the judge, who ordered him held without bail.
The government proffered that the defendant is a self-proclaimed white supremacist and white supremacist literature and Nazi regalia was found in his residence. Defendant is also a member of the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club, an organization the government proffered is involved in criminal activity, including drug dealing,” U.S. Magistrate Michael J. Roemer stated in his detention order.