Trial Nears For Sect Leader Facing Child Sex, Racketeering
Rob Peecher, MaconTelegraph.com, Dec. 29, 2003
In one week, sect leader Malachi York will go to trial on
federal child sex and racketeering charges.
A federal grand jury reindicted York last month on 11 counts,
including three racketeering charges, five counts involving
transporting minors across state lines for the purpose of having
sex with them and three counts of evading federal financial
The superseding indictment was released to the press last week,
and though York’s attorneys requested the trial be postponed
with the addition of the new charges, jury selection for the
trial is to begin Jan. 5 in Brunswick.
If convicted on the new racketeering charges, York could face
significantly stiffer penalties, including a longer sentence and
possibly the loss of property.
York is the leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a
quasi-religious sect based in rural Putnam County on a 476-acre
compound. A year ago, he was to go to trial on more than 200
state child molestation charges stemming from the same
investigation, but just before trial he pleaded guilty to both
the state and federal charges.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson rejected the
negotiated plea agreement — which would have put York in prison
for the next 15 years — and York’s attorneys subsequently
withdrew the guilty plea.
Five attorneys are representing York: Ed Garland and Manny Arora,
his initial lawyers; Frank Rubino, a Miami-based criminal
defense lawyer who represented Manuel Noriega; and Benjamin
Davis and Adrian Patrick, his two newest attorneys.
“We’re confident,” Patrick said last week. “It’s going to be a
very intense trial. There are strengths and weaknesses on both
sides, but we will be prepared for Jan. 5. We’ll be ready to
aggressively defend (York).”
In the weeks leading to the trial, York’s followers have been
handing out lawsuits like they once handed out flyers on the
streets of Eatonton. On Christmas Day, two Nuwaubians attempted
to serve Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills at his home with a
lawsuit hidden among wrapped Christmas packages. A week earlier,
one of York’s followers had a heart attack in the lobby of a
doctor’s office where he was serving a doctor who has seen York
while in custody.
About 200 of York’s followers dressed as Native Americans, wore
Egyptian-themed costumes and Masonic-type outfits and marched in
Brunswick’s Christmas parade. Other followers handed out
pamphlets supporting York in the upcoming trial.
At a pretrial hearing, Judge Ashley Royal — who will preside
over York’s trial — chastised the Nuwaubians for attempting to
taint the jury pool.
The trial was moved to Brunswick after York’s attorneys sought a
change of venue because of pretrial publicity.
Chief Black Thunderbird ‘Eagle’
In a lawsuit he filed last month under the name Chief Black
Thunderbird “Eagle,” York claims he has been tortured while in
custody and that his confession and guilty plea were coerced.
The lawsuit names more than 30 defendants, among them the state
and federal prosecutors handling his criminal prosecution,
investigators with the FBI and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office,
and victims and witnesses who are expected to testify against
Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that he is not “Dwight York” —
his given name — but Chief Black Thunderbird Eagle. Dwight York
“is a fiction created by the state of Massachusetts,” the suit
claims. York was born in Massachusetts.
The suit claims he is being treated cruelly and inhumanely
because he was denied bond and lists several similar cases where
bond was granted.
Among those similar cases, York cites the $3 million bond given
to embattled pop singer Michael Jackson and the bonds granted in
child molestation cases of six Catholic priests and two rabbis.
Attached to York’s lawsuit is a psychiatric report performed on
behalf of the court. In that psychiatric evaluation, York told a
forensic psychiatrist that his status as a “chief of a Native
American tribe” gives him diplomatic immunity.
“The whole thing is about Putnam County officials wanting the
Wahanee land (the Nuwaubian compound) back,” York told the
psychiatrist. “This has been going on since 1993. It’s
intimidation because I’ve written over 400 books that have
worldwide distribution. The sheriff of Putnam County he is
intimidated by me and by my tribe.”
He also said he didn’t trust Garland and accused his attorney of
being in a conspiracy with Sills.
“I explained to (Garland) that I am a Native American and a
member of the United Nations with a UN number. I am also covered
by the Geneva Courts. I am designated an indigenous sovereign
Native American. The paperwork is in the process that states who
I am,” York told the psychiatrist.
When York first formed his organization in the early 1970s in
New York, it was outwardly a Muslim sect.
When the Nuwaubians moved to Putnam County in 1993, York was
claiming to be from another planet.
Since then, York and his followers have claimed affiliation with
Masons, they have claimed to be both Jewish and Christian, and
they have claimed to be Egyptian.
The compound is adorned with two pyramids, a sphinx and other
Egyptian-themed statutes and buildings.
York was arrested May 8, 2002 and has been in custody since his