Friday, August 31, 2001

Neo-Nazi robber to stay in prison

Appeals court upholds conviction

The Associated Press

        A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the conviction and life prison sentence of the leader of a neo-Nazi organization who was convicted of robbing two banks — one of them in Springdale — and bringing a bomb into one.

        The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati unanimously rejected Peter K. Langan's appeal of his 1999 convictions for bank robbery, use of firearms and a bomb during the holdups and assault of federal officers.

        Federal agents said they fired more than 50 shots into a van Mr. Langan was in when they arrested him in Columbus in January 1996. Agents testified that they fired because they saw Mr. Langan holding a handgun inside the van.

        Mr. Langan, who used the alias “Commander Pedro,” led a small white-supremacist group known as the Aryan Republican Army and the Midwestern Bank Bandits. Prosecutors said Mr. Langan planned to overthrow the government.

        He was sentenced to life in prison plus 35 years. Appeals judges Ronald Gilman, Danny Boggs and Ralph Guy Jr. rejected his challenges to his conviction and sentence.

        His lawyers argued it was unfair for the trial judge, U.S. District Judge John Holschuh, to exclude a psychologist's testimony which they claim could have undermined an eyewitness' identification. The appeals judges said Judge Holschuh had discretion to exclude the testimony, and that Mr. Langan's counsel had opportunity to cross-examine a bank employee who identified Mr. Langan. Mr. Langan was convicted of robbing the Columbus National Bank in October 1994, in which $3,400 was taken at gunpoint, and robbing the Society National Bank in Springdale in June 1994, where $11,890 was stolen.


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