A member of a neo-Nazi terrorist organization who fled Canada and allegedly attempted to organize a mass killing has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison, according to reporters at the court house.
Patrik Mathews, a Canadian member of The Base and former army reservist, pleaded guilty to several weapons charges in a plea agreement. It ends an almost two year-long saga for the neo-Nazi which involves being outed as a member of the Base, investigated by the Canadian military, skipping the country to cohabitate with American neo-Nazis, train them, and finally getting scooped up in an FBI raid.
Brian Lemley Jr. housed Mathews after he fled Canada and planned the mass killing alongside the former Canadian combat engineer. Like Mathews, Lemley, a former U.S. soldier who served in Afghanistan, received a nine-year prison sentence.
The Base is a neo-Nazi terror group organized into cells across the United States and the world. It's headed by an American man who used to work for the Department of Homeland Security and currently lives in Russia. The central ideology of the group is far-right accelerationism which, in this case, refers to the group hoping to accelerate the fall of society (preferably via a race war) so they can build an ethnostate from its ashes.
The Base was declared a terrorist organization by Canada in February. Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang decided that the sentence doled out to Mathews and Lemley would include a "terrorism enhancement” which meant a longer sentence.
Mathews, and fellow defendant and neo-Nazi Brian Lemley Jr., accepted a plea agreement in June that saw them plead guilty to three charges connected to possession of a machine gun and destroying a cell phone that was a part of a federal investigation. Earlier in the year, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, another co-defendant, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received a five-year sentence.
The U.S. Attorney Office of Maryland and FBI held a press conference following Lemley’s sentence being handed down. Thomas Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the FBI Baltimore field office, didn’t mince words when describing Lemley and Mathews’ plans.
"These defendants were hoping for a civil war. In their own words they craved blood on their hands,” said Sobocinski. "They were dangerous. They studied violence, tested weapons, stockpiled munitions and supplies and planned to kill in pursuit of their extremist goals.
"Lemley bragged that he daydreamed about killing people. Mathews compiled a list of mass shootings and expressed a desire to hunt people. They discussed targeting Black children and assassinating a political figure. The pair even spoke about trying to free a convicted mass murderer from prison."
Reporters present said that Mathews told the court he didn’t want to “hurt anyone,” that he got “involved with the wrong people” and regrets his actions daily.
"I try to be people's friends. I picked the wrong set of friends to do that. It's one thing to be a friend, be a buddy,” the CBC quotes him as saying. “It's another to get involved in illegal activity. It's insane and all my fault."
Mathews requested to serve his time in Minnesota in order to be close to his family in Manitoba. Lemely likewise told the court that he regretted his actions and understood why those who heard what the FBI recorded would be alarmed.
"The things I said are horrible and don't reflect who I really am or who my family raised me to be,” he said. “Murder was never in my heart. Only foolish dreams of war glory and valor."
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Mathews was outed by an explosive newspaper investigation by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe who went undercover and joined the group. Following Mathews' identity being ascertained, the neo-Nazi fled Canada. After Mathews illegally crossed into the United States, the three men travelled down to Maryland where Mathews lived with Lemley. Together the two plotted how they could further accelerate the fall of society to kick off a race war. During this time Mathews attended The Base meetups where he used his military training to lead the group through several paramilitary exercises.VICE was the first outlet to report on Mathews being on the lam with the neo-Nazi group.
The FBI became aware of the cohabitating neo-Nazis and planted several recording devices in the apartment on which they caught the neo-Nazis discussing mass poisonings, derailing trains, and killing federal officers. The FBI moved in January 2020 when they heard the two discussing travelling to Richmond, Virginia, where a large second amendment rally was set to take place, in the hopes of sparking violence between the well-armed rally goers, police officers, and leftist counter-protestors.
“We can’t let Virginia go to waste, we just can’t,” Mathews told Lemley, according to court documents.
Authorities moved in on The Base arresting not just the Maryland members—which included Mathews, Lemley, and Bilbrough—but also several members of a Georgia cell who were, unconnected to the Virginia plot, plotting the murders of a local anti-fascist couple. The Georgia cell members have yet to face trial.
Outside of the courtroom, following the sentencing, Joseph Balter, Patrik Mathew’s attorney, said that he was “disappointed” in the judge’s decision of nine years.
"The words weren’t necessarily indicative were intending. There was a lot of bluster, there was a lot of hyperbole, a lot of rhetoric, and that was the argument we made to the court," said Balter. "The court took it all in, it was all carefully considered and it ended up as it did."
Earlier in the week, the prosecutors and defence counsel painted two different portraits of the neo-Nazis’ plot during a hearing to decide if a terrorist enhancement would be used. The defendant's counsel described the plot as mere big talk between two neo-Nazis who weren't ever going to truly do anything. Meanwhile, the prosecutors pointed to the two stockpiling weapons and described it as a detailed plan.
According to reporters in the Maryland courthouse during the U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang said the plot wasn’t merely just the "wishes and hopes and far-flung fantasies" of a pair of "wide-eyed neophytes.”
"This was not just talk,” said Chuang. “There was intent to move forward with this type of terrorist activity."
Court reporters said Mathews, who once had a blonde buzz cut, now has a scruffy beard and shaggy head of hair, and took the news of the sentence enhancement stoically.
Mass killings by neo-Nazis, such as the one that occurred in Christchurch, were hot topics among The Base. VICE has viewed tens of thousands of screenshots of the inner communications of members of The Base showed the neo-Nazis revered mass murderers and at times critiqued the efficiency of a killer. The sentencing documents contained a list found at Mathews’ Manitoba home that featured mass killings ordered by how many people were killed in the attack.
Brian Lemely Jr. will be sentenced later today.