Sect leader's convictions upheld

Athens Banner-Herald (GA)/October 28, 2005
By Joe Johnson

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the 2004 conviction of religious sect leader Dwight "Malachi" York that led to a 135-year prison sentence on child molestation and racketeering charges.


The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision was announced without comment by G.F. Peterman III, acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

York appealed his conviction on several grounds, including claims that prosecutors improperly applied federal racketeering laws, the trial judge erred when ruling on defense motions and the grand jury that indicted him had been tainted by pretrial publicity.

Because of the publicity, York's trial was moved from U.S. District Court in Macon to Brunswick, where a jury convicted him Jan. 23, 2004, on charges of conspiracy, racketeering, conspiracy to transport minors for unlawful sex, transporting minors for unlawful sex, traveling interstate to engage in unlawful sex and structuring cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements.

The convictions were based largely on the testimony of former members of York's cult, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, who said he began molesting children as young as 8 years old in New York, where the cult was founded. He continued molesting children after moving the group in 1993 to a 476-acre compound outside Eatonton in Putnam County, witnesses testified, as well as at the sect leader's mansion on Mansfield Court in Athens.

Former Nuwaubians testified York had manipulated the sect's finances for personal gain from 1998 until his arrest in 2002.

The Athens mansion was seized by the U.S. Marshals Service and sold at auction in August.

York, who currently goes by the name of Chief Black Thunderbird Eagle, is serving his sentence in a special housing unit of the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan.















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