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Burns & Gambo

Updated Oct 17, 2013 - 3:38 pm

Purported Arizona white supremacist to remain in jail

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A man who authorities say once tried to set up a whites-only nation in America will remain jailed in Arizona until at least Friday.

Kirby Kehoe was arrested this week at his sprawling ranch near Ash Fork and charged with possessing a weapon. He appeared in federal court Thursday in Flagstaff for a detention hearing, but Magistrate Mark Aspey delayed a decision until Friday.

The 65-year-old Kehoe appeared frail and repeatedly winced during the hearing from pain that his attorney, Luke Mulligan, attributed to a cancer diagnosis. Mulligan pointed to Kehoe's health and his lack of any recent encounter with law enforcement in arguing that his client is not a danger to the community or a flight risk.

"My client is not capable of fleeing anywhere," he said. "He's not healthy, he doesn't have any means."

The prosecutor, Adam Zickerman, said Kehoe's convictions in the late 1990s for racketeering and possession of illegal weapons in a case related to a plot aimed at overthrowing the government, along with the marijuana and firearms seized from his property, warrant keeping him behind bars.

"His history is not good," Zickerman said.

Aspey wanted more clarification on whether weapons possession is considered a violent crime for the purposes of detention before issuing a ruling. Kehoe was returned to custody.

The Kehoe family has been well-known to law enforcement since the 1990s when authorities say they provided weapons to various white supremacists who committed robberies across the Midwest. Authorities also said the family was involved in a plot to overthrow the federal government and establish the Aryan People's Republic in the Pacific Northwest.

Kehoe was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in that case, but he's maintained that he wasn't involved in his sons' efforts to establish a whites-only nation and that he is not a racist.

His son, Chevie Kehoe, is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1996 killings of three people as part of the plot.

Another son, Cheyne Kehoe, 37, was arrested in Prescott on a weapons charge stemming from the raid at his father's 40-acre property that is dotted with travel trailers, solar panels and shipping containers. He's scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a detention hearing. He previously had served 11 years for his role in a shootout with Ohio police during a traffic stop near Cincinnati.

The felony convictions mean Cheyne and Kirby Kehoe are banned from possessing weapons.

Cheyne Kehoe's attorney, Mik Jordahl, said Wednesday that his client had used a .22-caliber rifle found at his father's home for target practice and that he has disavowed white supremacy.

Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent Rustin Wayas testified Thursday that Cheyne Kehoe told authorities that his father has extreme anti-government views, a separatist mentality on race issues and that he actively was seeking to connect with others who have similar viewpoints. Cheyne Kehoe also told authorities that he believed his father would put those views into action when the government or societal order collapsed or if his health was failing to a point where he felt he had nothing else to lose, Wayas said.

Under questioning by Mulligan, Wayas said agents executing a search warrant at Kirby Kehoe's property found nothing to substantiate the statements.

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