Local News

Ex-Klan leader gets prison time for murder plot, weapons charges

Posted February 6, 2013 3:40 p.m. EST
Updated February 11, 2013 3:04 p.m. EST

— A former Ku Klux Klan leader was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for plotting to kill Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell more than a decade ago, as well as various weapons violations, authorities said.

Charles Robert Barefoot, 50, of Benson, was convicted last September of conspiracy to possess stolen firearms, possession of stolen firearms, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, receipt of explosives with intent to kill, illegal storage of explosive materials and distribution of explosive materials to an individual under age 21.

Barefoot, who has appealed his conviction, was the leader of the North Carolina chapter of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and three members of his group, including his then-17-year-old son, stole 30 firearms from a Benson home in October 2001, authorities said. Some of the guns were later sold, and Barefoot split the proceeds with other Klan officials.

Authorities also said Barefoot had a vendetta against Bizzell, blaming the sheriff for the failure of his nightclub and for preventing the Klan from marching in the 2001 Mule Days parade in Benson.

Barefoot began building pipe bombs and hatched a scheme to float down the Neuse River on a boat, get out in Smithfield, plant a bomb at the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and then get back on the boat, authorities said. There was no evidence that the plot was ever attempted.