A Seattle federal judge has denied a motion to suppress evidence in an ongoing domestic extremism case, ruling that the FBI was not required to disclose more than $82,000 in payments to an alleged white supremacist serving as a confidential informant.
Judge John Coughenour’s Aug. 30 decision is the latest development in the case of Kaleb Cole, an accused neo-Nazi and Atomwaffen member arrested in February 2020 for allegedly participating in an Atomwaffen intimidation campaign against Jewish people and journalists of color.
According to Cole, the FBI failed to disclose the sordid background of one of its confidential informants in the bureau’s application for a search warrant of Cole’s Texas home.
“The CI [confidential informant] is a convicted felon and currently owns and operates a publishing company that distributes white supremacist writings,” Cole said in his Aug. 13 filing.
“The CI began his long career as a professional informant in exchange for consideration regarding his sentence on a federal conviction for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and an unregistered silencer.
“He has continued this work for pay.”
Cole said the FBI has paid this white supremacist more than $144,000, including more than $82,000 for his work in this case.
Department of Justice prosecutors responded Aug. 20, arguing that the credibility of the FBI informant shouldn’t affect the validity of the search warrant on Cole’s home.
“But even if the informant’s credibility was material to the probable cause finding, the omitted information would not have changed the outcome,” the DOJ said. “The fact that the FBI repeatedly chose to pay the informant for information over many years is a reflection of the fact that the FBI consistently found the informant’s information proved reliable.”
In his Aug. 30 decision, Judge Coughenour agreed with the DOJ’s arguments about the FBI informant’s credibility.
“The FBI’s longstanding relationship with the informant and the compensation it paid to him, approximately $140,000 over a sixteen-year period, does not impugn his credibility,” the judge said. “If anything, it suggests that he demonstrated reliability in the past.
“Otherwise, it stands to reason, the FBI would have terminated its relationship.”
Neither the judge nor the DOJ addressed Cole’s allegations that the confidential informant is a publisher of white supremacist literature.
When contacted by The Epoch Times, a DOJ spokesperson said, “Our filings in this case speak for themselves, and we have no additional comment to add at this time.” Cole’s attorney declined to comment, while an FBI spokesperson said the agency had no comment on the case.
Other outlets agree that the white supremacy allegations against the FBI informant are likely true.
“The list of active members of extremist movements in America is, thankfully, small,” wrote Matthew Gault for Vice Motherboard. “The list of those caught with a silenced weapon with shaved-off serial numbers involved in publishing white supremacist literature is even smaller.”
Cole’s case is set for jury trial on Sept. 27.