- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The man prosecuting a white supremacist who unsuccessfully tried to turn the small North Dakota town of Leith into an all-white enclave says an investigative report ordered by a judge is riddled with errors.

Grant County State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz on Monday stopped short of saying the report submitted to Judge David Reich late last week could jeopardize a plea agreement the prosecutor reached with white supremacist Craig Cobb. However, Schwarz said, “I would hope the judge can see the inaccuracies and the illegal conclusions that have been reached based on inaccuracies and improper data.”

Defense attorney Ryan Heintz did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment on Monday.

The report is sealed. Reich ordered it in late February after Cobb agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges in order to avoid further jail time.

Cobb’s sentencing has been scheduled for April 29. Reich can accept or reject the plea agreement, which calls for Cobb to be on supervised probation for four years and no longer own guns. If he rejects it, Cobb could withdraw his guilty pleas.

Cobb, 62, who also is wanted on a hate crime charge in Canada, moved to Leith about two years ago, bought a dozen properties and encouraged others with white power views to join him so they could create a voting majority in the town of 23 residents. His plans fizzled and he no longer owns any property in Leith.

He has been held at Mercer County jail since mid-November after his arrest on “terrorizing” charges for allegedly scaring townsfolk while he was carrying out an armed patrol in Leith. Cobb said his actions were in response to violence and harassment directed toward him.

Cobb mailed the AP a letter he received from the West Central Human Service Center in Bismarck summarizing the results of tests he underwent as part of the presentence investigation, including behavioral and anger assessments. The letter says the testing did not find significant behavior or personality issues or a problem with anger management. The human service center did not recommend mental health or addiction services.

Cobb told the AP in a telephone interview Monday that he hopes the report will help influence the judge to accept the plea deal.

Cobb was charged with seven felony counts of terrorizing that carried a maximum total punishment of 35 years in prison. In late February he pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor menacing charges and one felony terrorizing count, but Reich ordered an investigation to gather more information before deciding Cobb’s punishment.

Schwarz has said that four of Cobb’s six victims support the plea deal, but Leith Mayor Ryan Schock says he and others want Cobb to go to prison. Schock, City Councilman Lee Cook and town website operator Greg Bruce have filed a complaint with North Dakota’s attorney disciplinary board, maintaining Schwartz acted unprofessionally and possibly unethically.

Schwarz, who says he has handled the case properly, declined to release details of the investigation because it is not open to the public. He did say that it is “very clear” that the majority of the victims support the plea deal.

Schwarz said he will be working to correct what he views as inaccuracies in the report, though he did not elaborate. He said he is not even sure if the report recommends prison time for Cobb.

“It provides more confusion than it does clarification,” he said.

Cobb said if he is released from jail he will petition another state to accept him, which would be a requirement of his probation. He declined to say which state.

“I feel I’ve done my responsibility. I’d like to retire from white nationalism,” he said.


Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake

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