Steven McFadden, 39, a driver for a moving company, lives in an apartment building in Elmhurst. In that building tenants of many races converse in many languages and some do not speak English.
This is the building where McFadden, a self-proclaimed racist who was arrested last week, chose to make his home - replete with loaded weapons and literature regaling Hitler, the Nazi Party and the white race, the Queens district attorney said.
McFadden is the second Queens man taken into custody in less than six months with ties to one of the most dangerous white supremacist groups in America, the National Alliance, the Queens district attorney said.
Acting on a tip, the Queens district attorney's office said, the police searched McFadden's apartment at 87-30 Justice Ave. on Oct. 23 and discovered an arsenal of weapons: brass knuckles, swords, revolvers, pistols, shotguns. Some guns were loaded, others were not, authorities said.
McFadden was charged with 46 counts of various weapons possession charges and the criminal sale of a firearm, the district attorney's office said.
He freely admitted to authorities that he was a member of the National Alliance, a spokeswoman for the DA's office said. Several days after his arrest, neighbors from Russia, India, Latin America passed through the lobby of his five-story apartment building.
Over the past year, the name of the National Alliance has crept from the shadows of the Internet into the light of Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. Just last month, fliers from the group were found tucked under windshield wipers of cars in College Point and Bayside Hills. A year earlier, stickers from the same group surfaced in College Point and Little Neck.
Then in April, police first put a face on the National Alliance. In April Michael Sagginario, a Whitestone resident on parole for using explosives in the early 1990s in Flushing Airport, was arrested after federal parole officers noticed hate literature in his home - a violation of the terms of his probation. A subsequent search of his house turned up a cache of guns as well as a handbook published by the National Alliance, among other items, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney.
It is unclear whether McFadden and Sagginario knew each other.
Sagginario, who was never linked to the National Alliance stickers of a year ago, is being held without bail and is awaiting charges stemming from his probation violation, the authorities said. McFadden is being held on $50,000 bail. His next court date is set for Nov. 8.
"If the two cases are connected, the only conclusion I can really draw is that Queens is the most populated of the boroughs and is also the most diverse," said Etzion Neuer, the assistant director of the New York region of the Anti-Defamation League. "You may find people who feel threatened by Queens' diversity, and people like that, when they feel threatened, turn to hate groups like the National Alliance."
The National Alliance, a 16-year-old white supremacist group headquartered in West Virginia, does not have any "active cells," or satellite offices, in New York City, Neuer said. For a short time during the early 1990s, a cell was indeed active in the Bronx, Neuer said, but with the advent of the Internet, the physical cell in some cases has been supplanted by a virtual one, vastly expanding the accessibility of racist literature.
"It's certainly the medium of choice now," Neuer said. "They don't even have to leave home to plug into this ideology, though they might have to go to the gun store once and a while to load up."
The National Alliance, which has its own website, is considered to be the most dangerous supremacist group in the country, Neuer said. Its leader, William Pierce, is the author of a book called "Turner Diaries," a fictional handbook on terrorism read by Timothy McVeigh, the man convicted of bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, he said.
The National Alliance touts itself as "America's foremost patriot organization." Though the group gingerly avoids advocating violence, it does not discourage it, either, Neuer said.
Fliers the group distributed in Queens neighborhoods were headlined "When is a Crime a Hate Crime?" leading into a discussion on what the alliance considers a double standard in hate crime legislation. Specifically, it asks whether crimes committed by blacks or gays against whites would be considered hate crimes.
The Anti-Defamation League said it is closely monitoring the prevalence of Internet hate groups. For one thing, Neuer said, the Internet preserves anonymity and can make a clandestine group's daily routine even more furtive.
"The change in the last several years is the growth of the Internet," he said. "Once upon a time, maybe a cell was necessary. A lot of people who live in the city are sort of lulled into a sense of security - that we live in this liberal bastion called New York City."
Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.