William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews
CAMDEN City, N.J. (February 26, 2021)(CNBNews)– A Brooklawn resident today admitted his role in conspiring with members of a white supremacist hate group to threaten and intimidate African Americans and Jewish Americans by vandalizing minority-owned properties throughout the country in September 2019, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Brooklawn is a small community of 1,934 people located on the Delaware River. It is often described by local residents as "God's Little Acre".
Tobin was just 18 when he was arrested in November 2019 for instructing The Base members to deliberately destroyed synagogues in Wisconsin and Michigan from his home in Brooklawn. Authorities said Tobin called the plan “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to when the Nazis destroyed synagogues in Germany in 1938.
“Tag the s--t" out of the synagogues, he told them, according to the court filing. “If there’s a window that wants to be broken, don’t be shy.”
Authorities executed a search warrant at Tobin’s home on Nov. 7, seizing his computer, a gaming system, and hard drives. The computer evidence showed the concerning Google searches and an internet history that included several news articles about the synagogues.
Besides those items, there was a video of someone firing at people in a mosque, documents about making plastic explosives, and photos of racist violence, guns.
According to NJ.com law enforcement was drawn to Tobin while investigating two synagogues defaced in the midwest in September. One, in Michigan, was marked with the group’s symbol and swastikas on Sept. 21. Another in Wisconsin was defaced the next day with those symbols and anti-Semitic words.
Following his arrest, CNBNews contacted Brooklawn Police Chief Shamus Ellis and asked if his department had any problems with Tobin recently. "This was an FBI Investigation so as instructed, I will need to refer you to the FBI Philadelphia Field Office. Prior to this investigation, I don't believe we have had any negative encounters with Tobin.
Federal authorities say that Tobin had planned to attack black people at a Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey, and schemed to “let loose” with a machete on visitors inside the mall.
In April 2020 Tobin was released from prison on a $100,000 bond. Tobin, who was a former volunteer Brooklawn fireman, told FBI agents during an interview that he dreamed about killing black people at a North Jersey mall.
Fire Chief John McKinney told NJ.com that Tobin has been a volunteer firefighter in Brooklawn for less than a year. He said he was unaware of the accusations against Tobin until he was contacted by a reporter. McKinney says Tobin became a volunteer firefighter through the fire company's “Fire Service Explorers,” which is also a Boy Scouts of America program.
Tobin allegedly said, according to federal authorities, “There were so many African Americans around that it ‘enraged’ him,” and blamed the turmoil in the country as the reason for his hatred. He never went through with that deadly plan.
The group he belongs to, which calls itself a “white protection league,” advocates for a country populated only by white people. Its members practice “doomsday prepping" (preparing for the end of the world), and encourage participation in military training.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Tobin admitted that from Sept. 15 to Sept. 23, 2019, he was a member of a white supremacist group, “The Base,” and during that time, he communicated online with other members and directed them to destroy and vandalize properties affiliated with African Americans and Jewish Americans. Tobin dubbed this coordinated attack “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” after an attack in Germany on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, in which Nazis murdered Jewish people and burned and destroyed Jewish homes, synagogues, stores, and schools. Tobin implored members of The Base to post propaganda flyers and to break windows and slash tires belonging to African Americans and Jewish Americans. On Sept. 21, 2019, members of The Base vandalized synagogues in Racine, Wisconsin, and Hancock, Michigan, by spray painting them with hate symbols.
A conspirator, Yousef Omar Barasneh, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy against rights in federal court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, for his role in vandalizing the synagogue in Racine, Wisconsin.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI Philadelphia Division’s South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Driscoll, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force and its member agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the New Jersey State Police and the Camden County Police Department, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked the Brooklawn and Cherry Hill police departments for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen M. Harberg of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden and Trial Attorney Eric Peffley of the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section.