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White supremacist who terrorized ND town gets probation

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A white supremacist accused of terrorizing people in the small North Dakota town of Leith will serve four years of supervised probation but no additional jail time in a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

Craig Cobb, 62, has been jailed since mid-November when he was arrested on seven felony counts for scaring residents of Leith while patrolling the town with a gun, as part of his plans to turn the town into a neo-Nazi settlement.

A judge Tuesday accepted the plea deal, which reduced all but one of the felony charges to misdemeanors, gave Cobb credit for the 167 days he served in jail, and placed him on four years’ probation. The original charges against Cobb carried a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Officials of Leith were unhappy with the deal, because they wanted Cobb to spend time in prison. They had strong words for the prosecutor, Todd Schwarz, who negotiated the plea agreement, according to the Tribune.

“If Schwarz had done his job, we wouldn't be in this situation,” said Leith Councilman Lee Cook, who was one of the people Cobb approached with a gun the November day he was arrested. “This is a failure of justice. (Cobb) made our lives a living hell and he’s walking the streets today.”

Leith Mayor Ryan Schock said the town was "the most peaceful place on earth" before Cobb showed up and started promoting white supremacy.

"I regret my actions," Cobb told the court Tuesday, according to the Tribune. "I know I was wrong and I accept responsibility for my actions."

Schwarz said he felt the plea deal was fair and any trial would likely have ended with the same outcome.

The Bismarck Tribune first reported that Cobb moved to Leith more than two years ago, bought a house and 12 other lots, and encouraged others with similar views to join him. In August, he publicized his plans to fill the town with other white supremacists and take over the town government. Cobb has since sold his house and deeded his property back to the city.

Cobb's probation includes 26 conditions, one of which says he must stay 500 yards from Leith and have no contact with his victims. He must also wear a global positioning system monitor.

Cobb said he plans to seek permission to move to Missouri to care for his mother. He said the same thing in an April 14 phone interview with the Forum News Service, adding he wants to "retire from white nationalism, because I’ve had it.”

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