Judge accepts white supremacist's plea agreement

2014-04-29T11:59:00Z 2014-04-29T14:40:42Z Judge accepts white supremacist's plea agreementBy LAUREN DONOVAN | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

A man who for two months turned a town upside down, ridiculed and threatened its citizens and preached hatred against blacks and Jews was freed from jail Tuesday, and no one was there to cheer his release.

Craig Cobb, 62, who’d been jailed since November on charges of terrorizing Leith residents after planning to turn Leith into a neo-Nazi settlement, was released on a plea agreement that reduced all but one of the felony charges to misdemeanors, with time served and four years’ probation.

Cobb, dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, was clean-shaven with his gray hair combed back for the hearing at the Burleigh County Courthouse. He said he regretted his actions and plans to go to Missouri, if that state will take his probation.

Other than Cobb, no one who left the half-hour hearing appeared pleased with the deal.

Leith Mayor Ryan Schock and Councilman Lee Cook stood in the courthouse lobby and had strong words for Grant County Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz, who brokered the plea and dropped the most vocal victim from the charges.

“If Schwarz had done his job, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” said Cook, who also was among people Cobb approached with a gun the November day he was arrested.

“This is a failure of justice,” Cook said. “He made our lives a living hell and he’s walking the streets today.”

Schock said Leith was the most peaceful place on Earth before Cobb showed up and started promoting white supremacy and luring other neo-Nazis to town. Cobb had been in Leith, working in the Bakken for more than a year before he started promoting a Leith takeover on white supremacist websites.

Schock said the legal proceedings were over, but it hasn’t ended for Leith because Cobb gave three lots in town to other notorious white supremacists.

“When will we be safe again? We’re still getting threats from all his cronies,” Schock said.

Schock said he wanted Cobb locked away for four years so people in town wouldn’t have to look over their shoulders all the time.

South Central District Judge David Reich released Cobb on 26 conditions, including that he must stay 500 yards from Leith and have no contact with his victims.

Despite the opinions of the people who showed up to the Tuesday morning hearing, Reich said most of the victim impact statements filed in the case were in support of the judge accepting the plea agreement.

Schwarz said Cobb will be wearing a GPS monitor and his movements could be tracked for up to four years.

“If he goes back (to Leith), we’ll be watching,” Schwarz said.

He said he felt the plea deal was fair and any trial would likely have ended with the same outcome.

Cobb served 167 days in jail, far longer than the two months of hardcore supremacy activism he staged from the small house he quietly purchased along with other lots in town.

He has since sold his house and deeded other property back to the city. Two of his supporters and former housemates, Kynan Dutton and Deborah Henderson, now live in Underwood. They were part of the armed patrol and Dutton was released from jail in January on a plea deal.

Later Tuesday, outside the Parole and Probation office where his release paperwork was being completed, Cobb said he wouldn’t talk to the Tribune because it started “all this.”

The Tribune broke the Cobb story back in August 2013.

Reach Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

Copyright 2016 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Killed in the line of duty

The death of Sgt. Steve Kenner on July 8, 2011, marked the first and only loss of an on-duty officer in the Bismarck Police Department's more …

17 hours ago

Dickinson man sentenced for high-speed chase

A Dickinson man was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to charges related to a police chase from Dickinson to Mandan.

February 10, 2016 12:00 pm

Mandan man wanted for luring charges

A warrant has been issued for Merle Thomas Bohe, of Mandan, for charges including luring of a minor.

February 08, 2016 6:30 pm

Driver dies in hospital following crash

The driver of a stolen car died in the hospital due to a head injury Saturday night.

February 08, 2016 6:15 pm

Man accused in fatal Enderlin shooting charged with 2 counts

Authorities have charged a man accused in the shooting death of an Enderlin man.

February 08, 2016 2:53 pm

Owner of cuddling business charged with child neglect

Owner of cuddling business charged with child neglect

Amberrose Mergenthaler, owner of a recently announced cuddling and companionship business in Bismarck, faces charges of child neglect and poss… Featured

February 08, 2016 2:30 pm Photos

Photos