Use Of Informant In Ariz Bombing Trial 'necessary'

Published February 21, 2012 6:45PM (EST)

PHOENIX (AP) — A government informant whom defense attorneys have dubbed a "trailer park Mata Hari" didn't use sex to obtain evidence against two white supremacist brothers accused of bombing a city official in Arizona, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

Prosecutor Michael Morrissey told jurors that the hiring of the informant, identified in court records as Rebecca Williams, was "entirely permissible and necessary" to the investigation of identical twin brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon.

The 61-year-old brothers are accused of sending a package bomb to Don Logan almost eight years ago to the day, on Feb. 26, 2004. Logan, 54, is black and was the diversity director for the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale at the time.

Logan was hospitalized for three days after the bombing and needed four surgeries on his hand and arm. The bombing also injured a secretary.

The trial, which began Jan. 10, has been filled with drama as Williams took the stand for several days, and Logan himself described the bombing in detail for the jury.

Investigators chose the woman, who is a civilian, for her good looks and had her dress in revealing clothes and send the brothers racy photos to get them to open up to her. The "trailer park Mata Hari" nickname is a reference to the Dutch exotic dancer convicted of working as a spy for Germany during World War I.

Closing arguments began Tuesday morning, with Morrissey telling jurors that the evidence shows the Mahons were believers in "racial terrorism and violence as a way to accomplish their goals."

Morrissey replayed tapes that showed Dennis Mahon telling Williams how to make pipe bombs. In one recording, he tells her that he's had pipe bombs work in the past and that he's taught some white police officers how to make the explosives.

During the trial, jurors also heard recordings of the Mahons using racial epithets for black and Hispanic people and saying violence is the only answer for white men.

The brothers have pleaded not guilty to one count each of conspiracy to damage buildings and property by means of explosive, malicious damage of building by means of explosive, and distribution of information related to explosives.

Since the Mahons were arrested in June 2009 at their home in Davis Junction, Ill., their attorneys have unsuccessfully tried to get some or all of the charges against them dropped for various reasons, including allegations that the informant and federal investigators engaged in "outrageous conduct" that amounted to entrapment and coercion.

Defense attorneys also have argued that a more likely suspect in the bombing would be someone who worked in the city of Scottsdale and knew about its intraoffice mail, since the package was found in the city library and routed to Logan — not sent in the mail.

The Mahons were living in the Phoenix area at the time of the bombing but left days afterward.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that the brothers belonged to a group called the White Aryan Resistance, an organization that encourages members to act as "lone wolves" and commit violence against non-whites and the government to get their message across.

They played for jurors hundreds of hours of video and audio surveillance of the brothers interacting with Williams.

In January 2005, Williams set up a government-provided trailer at a campground in Catoosa, Okla., where the brothers were staying after the bombing. Authorities put a Confederate flag in the window and had Williams act like a government separatist and a racist to get the brothers to trust her.

Over the years, the three mostly spoke over the phone, but they got together in person on several occasions. While apart, the informant sent the brothers several revealing photos of herself, including one of her from behind wearing chaps, a Confederate bikini bottom and a black leather jacket. Another photo showed her in a white bikini top with a grenade hanging between her breasts as she posed in front of a pickup truck and a swastika.

By all accounts the tactic worked.

Dennis Mahon opened up to her as their conversations were recorded. He bragged about bombing a Jewish community center, an Internal Revenue Service building, an immigration facility and an abortion clinic, according to court records. Those claims haven't been corroborated.

Williams gave hours of testimony in the case, telling jurors that the brothers fell so hard for her, Dennis Mahon said he wanted to marry her and father her children.

Dennis Mahon's attorney told jurors that her client exaggerated to Williams to impress her and get her into bed, while Daniel Mahon's attorney painted her client as a hard-working man who had no time or desire to plot a bombing.

While Logan was on the stand, he choked up as he recalled the terrifying moments when the bomb went off, describing how he frantically ran down a hallway before kneeling down, hearing a secretary scream, and looking down to see his hand and arm covered in blood.

He also re-enacted how he used scissors to cut one side of the package open, turned it 90 degrees to cut another side and then cut it down the middle before sticking his hand inside.

"I heard a pop that sounded like a gunshot and everything slowed down," said Logan, who said the next thing he remembers is feeling unbearable pain, the lights going out, the room filling with smoke, and debris falling from the ceiling.

The same day in court, prosecutors played for jurors a voicemail that Dennis Mahon left at the diversity office a few months before the bombing.

"The white Aryan resistance is growing in Scottsdale," Dennis Mahon said angrily in the recording. "There's a few white people who are standing up."


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By Salon Staff

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