Friday, December 14, 2007

Former Salt Lake City National Alliance Leader Travis Massey Sentenced To 57 Months In Prison For "Hate Crimes"

A white activist who had to hoped to become a high school English teacher has been sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for the beating two minority men outside two downtown bars. Travis D. Massey (pictured at left) was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to four years, nine months in prison, the lowest end of the sentencing guidelines. Full stories from KSL Channel 5, the Deseret Morning News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KUTV Channel 2 Salt Lake used for reference.

-- Click HERE to review all previous posts discussing the indictment phase.
-- Click HERE to review all previous posts discussing the trial phase.
-- Click HERE for previous post about Keith Cotter.

Massey, along with former National Alliance Chairman Shaun Walker and Eric Egbert, was convicted by a federal jury in April 2007 on federal hate crime charges, to include conspiring to interfere with civil rights, and interfering with a "federally-protected" activity. Walker was sentenced to 87 months, and Egbert to 42 months. Massey was once in charge of the Salt Lake City unit of the National Alliance, a West Virginia-based white nationalist organization.

Prosecutors said Massey helped beat a bartender who was of Mexican descent at a downtown bar on New Year's Eve 2002. Prosecutors said Massey, Shaun Walker and Eric Egbert were in the O'Shucks bar and shouted racial slurs at several customers and at James Ballesteros, who was the bar's manager. As Ballesteros tried to escort them from the bar, the men pulled Ballesteros outside and beat him to the ground by brutally punching and kicking him.

Massey was also allegedly involved with the other two in the beating of an American Indian man outside of Port O'Call in March 2003. Prosecutors claim the group instigated the attacks to frighten minorities.

The media story fails to reflect the fact that the prosecution's case was significantly helped by two informers, Keith Cotter and Brad Callahan. Cotter was arrested for brutally attacking a black man in March 2005. The Feds also wanted to charge him with the two other attacks in which he participated. In exchange for his cooperation against the Shaun Walker Trio, the Feds did not charge him for his role in the O'Shucks and Port O'Call incidents. Cotter was sentenced on September 11th to time already served plus an additional eight months for the March 2005 bicycle attack. Brad Callahan was never arrested, but for reasons unspecified, decided to cooperate with the Feds. This additional information is documented on the website.

Mrs. Walker also asserts that Shaun Walker left the O'Shucks Bar before the alleged altercation took place, and that he was never present at the Port O'Call.

Judge Benson said Massey's sentencing reflects the serious nature of the offense and should serve as a deterrent for others considering hate crimes.

Before being sentenced, Massey said he only joined the National Alliance to fight illegal immigration and affirmative action. "I've done my best to be a good person", he said, citing his time serving in the Marines and doing charity work. He stood strong, neither acknowledging his involvement in the incidences nor apologizing for his actions. Friends and family also sent letters to Judge Dee Benson vouching for his character.

Massey was seeking a secondary education degree when he was arrested and said that being unable to fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher was one of the hardest things about being sent to prison.

After he is released, Massey will be on federally-supervised release for three years. During that time he will not be able to have contact with any race-based groups.

Fourteen comments have already been posted to the KSL story; all but one of them are "anti". Here's the supportive comment:

To tell you the truth......
Report Comment by knowall @ 5:14pm - Fri Dec 14th, 2007

There's no proof that these guys were the ones that did the beating. I attended the court hearings and these guys were charged with Conspiracy. Not that they were found guilty of being the ones that did the beating, they were found guilty of maybe knowing about it. So blame your news reporters and newspaper for blowing it up to more than what it should be. The so-called bar-tender, oh he was beaten so bad....the next morning he went up to the mountains and did some skiing. I used to ski and I know that if I was beaten the night before so bad, you wouldn't have found me at the lift. There's no proof that these guys were the ones that did the damage. The Federal agents and the Federal lawyers knew they had a easy case. Hey...they had to blame it on someone. Big deal over a stupid bar fight. I hope the Federal agent got his extra stripes.

Commentary: This remains one of the all time miscarriages of justice. Jaime Ballesteros, the Mexican victim, was so injured that he went skiing the very next day after the attack. Ballesteros also never followed up on pressing state charges of assault.

And the use of the informers remains suspect. Keith Cotter and Brad Callahan would both have a greater incentive to testify what the prosecution wanted to hear rather than what actually occurred. In Callahan's case, his testimony was particularly egregious, since he was not present at either incident anbd testified what he had heard second-hand. That is legally defined as "hearsay", but, as I understand the law, hearsay is admissible from the prosecution side but not from the defense.

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