FBI Probes Alleged Threat to Officer

Man tied to extremists reportedly sent letter in ‘97 seeking information on cop.

By Jim Redden
The Portland Tribune, Apr 6, 2001

The Portland Police Bureau is investigating a potential threat against one of its officers by a writer with links to the extremist group Army of God.

The writer is Corbett resident Fritz Springmeier, 45.  He is tied to Forrest Bateman, 29, a suspected member of the underground movement.

Springmeier and Bateman recently were arrested during a drug investigation conducted by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff’s deputies seized marijuana, illegal machine guns, explosives, timing devices and Army of God literature at Bateman’s rural Sandy home.

No weapons or Army of God literature were found at Springmeier’s home, but the two men knew each other, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Angela Blanchard said.

“They are part of the same marijuana grow operation,” Blanchard said.  “They’re selling drugs to supplement their income.”

On Nov.  3, 1997, Springmeier wrote to local free-lance journalist John Stevens asking for the home address of Portland police officer Scott Westerman.  Stevens was alarmed by the letter and had an associate tell a relative on the police bureau about it.  Westerman did not learn about the letter until just a few weeks ago, however.

“That’s a pretty substantial threat,” Westerman said.  “I wish I had been told about it at the time.”

According to Westerman, the bureau’s Criminal Intelligence Unit is investigating why he wasn’t told of the threat earlier.  Asked about the investigation, CIU head Lt. Randy Kane said he could not comment on it.

Cleared by grand jury

Springmeier’s alleged interest in Westerman stems from a Dec. 14, 1996, shooting case.  Corbett resident Patricia Sweany was visiting a friend in Southeast Portland when she called 911 to say she had been poisoned.  According to police and press reports, she refused to let paramedics examine her.  When Westerman tried to take her to the hospital, she shot a paramedic.  Westerman shot and killed Sweany in the ensuing struggle.

The paramedic, Kirk Ream, was not seriously injured.

Portland police detective sergeants Jay Drum and Wayne Svilar investigated the incident.  An autopsy conducted by Multnomah County Medical Examiner Larry Lewman found no traces of poison.  A Multnomah County grand jury declined to indict Westerman.

Stevens had a reporting business called International News Service when he met Springmeier in the summer of 1997.  Springmeier wrote to Stevens a few months later, claiming that Westerman murdered Sweany because she had “lots of hard evidence of judicial corruption in Multnomah County.”  The letter asked for Westerman’s home address and sought unspecified “information” on Drum, Svilar and Lewman.

It is unclear how Springmeier knew Sweany.  Springmeier has not returned several phone calls to his home from the Portland Tribune.

By coincidence, one of Stevens’ former co-workers was related to Svilar.  Stevens had his associate call Svilar and tell him about the letter.  Svilar did not ask for a copy of the letter.

“I understand why he didn’t think it was important at the time,” Westerman said.  “But given what we know now, I wish I’d known that group was out there.”

Stevens did not think about the letter again until the news broke about the Clackamas County arrests.  Bateman was arrested Feb.  9 and is being held on drug and weapons charges.  Springmeier was arrested March 1, charged with drug crimes, and released on his own recognizance.

The FBI was brought into the case because of the weapons and Army of God literature.  Although the local FBI office declined to comment on its investigation, Blanchard said Bateman is suspected of belonging to the Army of God.  He was convicted of racially intimidating a Forest Grove High School student in 1989.

Springmeier is a fundamentalist Christian who has written several books charging that satanic forces are conspiring with corrupt government officials to take over the world.  During a radio interview, he described his job as “exposing the New World Order agenda.”

The Army of God “are anti-abortion religious zealots who believe in using explosives to get their point across,” said Gary Perlstein, a nationally recognized terrorism expert who teaches criminal justice classes at Portland State University.

After learning that Springmeier was linked to Bateman, Stevens took the letter to the FBI.  A short time later, Westerman received a call about it from the Criminal Intelligence Unit.

He doesn’t blame Stevens for the lack of notice.

“He did the right thing,” Westerman said.

Contact Jim Redden at jredden@portlandtribune.com.

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