Watch Justice Dept can seize funds from white supremacist convicted in deadly Charlottesville car attack – Latest News
The Justice Department can seize money that has recently flowed into the prison inmate account of white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr., the Ohio man who in 2017 rammed his car into a group of anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one.
A federal judge in Virginia has ruled law enforcement officials can take and use the funds to pay for some of the approximately $80,000 in unpaid fines and restitution owed by Fields in his criminal case.
Fields, who pleaded guilty to several federal hate crimes charges in the deadly car attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounded dozens more, is serving a life sentence in prison. According to prosecutors, he has amassed “significant funds” in his prison inmate account at the federal prison facility in Springfield, Missouri. Though the exact amount in Fields’s inmate account is unclear, the Justice Department sought to seize at least $650 of the funds, arguing “various individuals” have been sending money to Fields.
In a handwritten motion, Fields asked the court “to reduce the payment from my trust account requested by the Government from $650 to $298.”
Federal judge Michael Urbanski rejected Fields’s argument that some of the money be preserved in his prison account to help pay for phone calls, stamps and other “sundry items.”
Though the Justice Department sealed the names of the suspected donors to Fields, testimony in a federal civil lawsuit against Fields indicated a known white supremacist had contributed money and raised the prospect that others in the white nationalist movement had sent correspondence to Fields over the past five years.
In 2017, Fields, an avowed white supremacist who kept a photo of Adolf Hitler on his bedside table, drove from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to attend the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which attracted hundreds of white nationalists to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The event also drew counterprotesters who demonstrated against the white nationalists.
The legal dispute over Fields’s prison inmate account money has also revealed a series of recent incidents of alleged prison misconduct by Fields. Prosecutors said Fields was fined $250 for possessing a dangerous “homemade” weapon in December 2020, while serving his term. They said Fields also made a “threatening remark” to an officer in January 2021. Other incidents of misconduct included being “insolent” to prison staff and refusing to appear at a hearing.
A Justice Department spokesperson and Fields’s defense attorney did not respond to requests for comment.