UPDATE ON FRITZ
John S. Torell
September 15, 2003
On October 8, 1997 the
Damascus branch of Key Bank of Oregon was robbed. The robbers fled with
$6,000.00 in cash. One of the robbers, later identified as Forrest E. Bateman
Jr., used a gun in the robbery, when he fired one shot into the ceiling of the
bank to warn the bank clerks that he was willing to use the gun if they did not
comply with his demands. Bateman was dressed in army battle fatigues. Ten
minutes prior to the robbery, a bomb exploded at the Fantasy Adult Video Store,
located six miles west of the bank. No one was injured in the explosion but
police investigators believe that the bomb was set off as a diversionary tactic.
Bateman and another man
(which I will not identify in order to protect his family, but will give him the
fictitious name Roger), had sometime earlier been recruited by Fritz Springmeier 1,
and both of them lived on a remote property on and off for eight years which was
owned by Rogerís family. Fritz would come often and spend time with the men.
According to a family member (which I have spoken to on several occasions), they
were preparing for some kind of action against government authorities. Roger,
Bateman and Springmeier grew marijuana on the family property (which was not
known to the family), and it was sold as a source of income to fund their
activities. The family eventually became very afraid of Fritz and forbade him to
come back on the property.
Some time after the robbery
Roger was arrested and charged with having an illegal shot gun, with a barrel
that was not in compliance with the law and also for being part of the marijuana
growing. He was promised a lighter sentence if he would testify against Bateman
and Springmeier, but the deal was later reneged on by the assistant U.S.
Attorney, Frank Noonan. Roger was sentenced to a prison term of 47 months to be
served out in federal prison, and was then shipped off to a federal prison in
In January 2002 Bateman and
Springmeier were indicted by a grand jury on charges of armed bank robbery, the
use of a firearm in a violent crime and possession of a destructive device in a
violent crime; but they did not go to trial until January 2003.
At this time Roger was
brought back to Oregon from the federal prison in California and held in a local
county jail. According to family members of Roger, he was very scared and feared
for his life and wanted to be returned as soon as possible to the federal prison
in California where he felt safer.
Bateman was facing up to 20
years in federal prison when he accepted a plea bargain on January 27, 2003 in
the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon and plead guilty to the charge of
bank robbery. When Batemen was sentenced on April 3, 2003, he was sentenced to
10 to 12 years.
On February 12, 2003
Springmeier was convicted in a jury trial on two counts, while a third was
thrown out. Count one charged
defendant with armed bank robbery and count two charged defendant with using and
carrying a firearm during the armed robbery. Count three which charged defendant
with using and carrying a destructive device during a bank robbery, did not go
to the jury because the court ruled that the evidence did not support that
The legal counsel for
Springmeier filed a motion to have the case thrown out in the Federal District
Court of Oregon. This motion was denied by the federal district judge James A.
Redden on March 21, 2003. Due to legal maneuvering by Springmeier, the
sentencing date was changed several times. Currently Springmeierís sentencing is
scheduled for November 13, 2003.
After having been kept in
Oregon for some seven months, first in a county jail and later at the federal
prison in Sheridan, Oregon, Roger was shipped back to California to serve out
his prison sentence. Because Bateman confessed to the robbery and agreed to
testify against Springmeier, Roger was never used as a witness during
Both Springmeier and Bateman
are currently incarcerated at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon.
Springmeier is held at the maximum security facility. According to an anonymous
source in Oregon, Fritz was involved in a fight in the prison and spent some
time in solitary confinement.
Investigator reporter John
Stevens from the Portland area in Oregon, was able to obtain copies of the
search warrants used by the police to search Springmeier and Batemanís
residences in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties. According to Stevens here are
some of the items found and confiscated: Machine guns, a modified 20 mm cannon,
a 37 mm grenade launcher, hand grenades, part for a .50 caliber machine gun,
tri-pod mounted .30 caliber semi-automatic belt fed copy of a Browning 1919
machine gun, dynamite, binary explosives, chemicals to make C-4 explosives,
numerous hand guns, rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
COVER UP - WHY?
When I first was informed that
Fritz was under police investigation, I started to search the Portland
newspaper, The Oregonian. I was able to find at least two newspaper articles,
stating the arrest of Fritz Springmeier and a write up on the court proceedings
from January 27, published in the Oregonian on January 29, 2003. The staff
writer was Stephen Beaven. Within a few weeks, every article concerning
Springmeier vanished from the Oregonian website, and when I tried to find them,
the answer came up that there are no articles existing on Springmeier. Next I
tried to call the newspaper, and ask for photocopies, willing to pay for them.
It was impossible to find anyone working in the archives willing to do the work.
During the first court
proceedings, Steven Beaven attended representing The Oregonian. As the different
legal maneuvers took place in the Federal District Court, the only reporter
present for all the hearings was the private investigative reporter John Stevens 3.
When I spoke to him, he was at a total loss as to why the media in Portland had
made the decision not to inform the public what was happening or to attend the
court hearings; after all, this was an armed robbery and a very well known
person in the community was accused of having done it.
The only place my researcher
in Portland could find a copy of the denial from Judge James A. Redden, was in
the law library of the Oregon State University.
As I looked further into the
case, I was told there is a possibility that the Federal
Government is trying to use Springmeier in the upcoming trials of the alleged
abortion bomber Eric Rudolph as a witness against him (Rudolph eluded capture
for some five years). The common practice of the federal government is to be
able to have a hostile witness testify against a defendant, and to offer a
reduced sentence for the witness. While negotiations are going on, there is
usually a news media blackout. Rudolph and Springmeier are both suspected to be
members of the Army of God (AOG).
According to the items listed
in the search warrants obtained by John Stevens, the following material was
found in Batemanís residence: Signs, banners, books, literature, computer
records and handwritten material that identified Bateman as a member of the
"Army of God." There were books describing how to make explosives, create
poisonous gases, culture diseases, as well as books on sniper training and
freedom fighting. There was also a copy of the Army of God operations manual.
Furthermore, ceramic body
armor with an Army of God (AOG) patch on the left shoulder was found along with
"Bull Run Militia" emblems, extensive military gear, fake identification, plans
and diagrams of operational plans which included the building of an underground
command center, an escape tunnel and a bunker in the woods.
Meanwhile supporters of
Springmeier are claiming that Fritz was "framed" by the Federal Government and
that he is innocent. There are some websiteís claiming his innocence and some of
them are trying to raise money so that Fritz can hire attorneys and continue the
After talking with a number
of people who have known Fritz for some years, and particularly to the family of
Roger, I am convinced that Fritz participated and led the bank robbery, that he
is a member of the Army of God, and that this group is armed and dangerous to
anyone opposing them. Hiding behind the cloak of being Christians, they are
bringing shame to the body of Christ.
Pastor Jeff Weakley of
Godís Remnant Church (GRC) is a part of the Identity Movement
which is also connected with the Christian Patriot Association (CPA). Weakley in
an interview with John Stevens in 1997 told how the Army of God (AOG) is set up,
and he specifically warned that the members are very dangerous, well armed,
committed and invisible. Weakley further revealed that Springmeier may be the
leader and brain behind Army of God cells and their activities. In a private
letter from Springmeier to John Stevens in 1997, Springmeier outlined his
activities and he ended the letter, saying "PLEASE
DESTROY THIS LETTER AFTER YOU READ IT, OUR EXISTENCE IS UNKNOWN."
For a background study on
Fritz Springmeier, see our article on Fritz
Springmeier - Another Human Tragedy.
to death threats and promises of harm, we cannot name some of our sources.
During the time period of March thru June 2003 there were no articles on Fritz
Springmeier available from The Oregonian newspaper.
3. For a
deeper study on the Identity Movement, see The Dove, Spring/Summer 1996, pages
for $2.00 postage paid); see our article on the
Identity Movement Cult.
John Stevens is an independent investigative reporter who has written some
articles used by the Oregon Spotlight.
For a complete report of Stevensí investigation of the Springmeier case, you may
contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org,
call him at (503) 256-1656, or visit the Oregonian Spotlight website. http://oregonspotlight.org/news.htm
November 13, 2003
Bank robbers might have been home grown terrorists
PORTLAND - A list of possible terror targets compiled by an ultra-right wing
group, including government buildings and other facilities were made public
Thursday as a federal judge sentenced a Portland area man for his part in a 1997
After the sentencing of Fritz Springmeier, a self-described religious author,
Clackamas County Sheriff deputies revealed a loose-leaf binder seized in 2001 as
a part of the case.
Springmeier, a white separatist known for his anti-government writings will
serve 9 years in federal prison. Federal Judge James Redden characterized the
robbery that included the detonation of a pipe bomb as a diversion as "vicious."
Among the locations handwritten in the binder entitled "Army of God, Yahweh's
Warriors, were the federal building, FBI offices, and KATU studios in Portland.
Floor plans to the FBI offices were also a part of the evidence seized in a raid
on property near Corbett on February 9, 2001.
In the raid, federal agents also seized a cache of military-style assault
weapons, including an AK-47, hand grenades, C-4 explosives, and bomb-making
ingredients that included ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.
"We take it (the target lists) very seriously," says Steve Thoroughman, a
detective with Clackamas County, and the lead investigator of the U.S.
government's case against Springmeier and his accomplice Forrest Bateman, who
was convicted and sentenced earlier this year in connection with the bank
Thoroughman says agents of the FBI and ATF have reviewed the hand-written notes
and have followed up on those leads.
"They had the means to do almost anything they wanted to," said Thoroughman.
They had fully automatic AK-47's, they had night vision, they had ceramic body
armor, anything they needed to carry out an assault."
Federal prosecutors say the handwritten notes were a clue to the workings of the
group, but without additional overt acts they did not provide enough evidence to
prove a conspiracy.
"We had to have more to make that kind of a case," said Frank Noonan, the U.S.
attorney who prosecuted Springmeier.
Springmeier's wife Patricia says her husband first met Bateman at a bible study
"He knew the bible forward and backward, and that's why they first got
together," says Patricia Springmeier.
Patricia also says her husband was framed by the federal government for his
writings that she believes exposed corruption at high levels of the government.
Just before sentencing Springmeier told the judge that the government had
destroyed his life. As he had during his trial, Springmeier proclaimed his
innocence and referred the sentence as a "divine blessing."
Martin Abernathy --- Providence, RI --- 11/15/03
Springmeier - Part 1
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