Prosecutors: NJ man directed white supremacists to 'tag the (expletive) out of' Racine synagogue

CAMDEN, N.J. — A New Jersey man faces allegations he conspired to carry out spray paint vandalism attacks in September against synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Federal prosecutors said 18-year-old Richard Tobin recruited people on a neo-Nazi social network. According to prosecutors, he directed fellow white supremacists, members of a self-described "White Protection League" to "tag the (expletive)" out of synagogues around the country as part of a plan he named, "Operation Kristallnacht," referencing the ransacking of Jewish homes, businesses, and schools by Nazis in Germany in 1938.

The online organization, not named in the documents, uses imagery associated with a social networking site identified by VICE Media as "The Base." VICE said "The Base" unites neo-Nazis, with a common goal of carrying out terrorism.

Investigators said Tobin communicated with "The Great Lakes" cell of the group via encrypted online messaging from his home in Brooklawn, New Jersey. Two people from that cell carried out his graffiti orders in Racine and Michigan. They were not named in the complaint.

Court records indicated Tobin told investigators he considered suicide attacks and once sat with a machete in the parking lot of a New Jersey mall, considering an attack on shoppers who are black. Federal prosecutors said he regularly thought about suicide by cop, triggered by "the state of the country," such as seeing gay "pride parades" or large numbers of people who are black.

The synagogues that were vandalized with swastikas and other images on Sept. 21-22 were in Hancock, Michigan, and Racine, Wisconsin -- the Beth Israel Sinai Synagogue.

A magistrate judge ordered Tobin to remain incarcerated Friday, Nov. 15, pending a mental health evaluation.

The crimes happened with the number of anti-Semitic incidents reaching "record high numbers" across the United States. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 780 cases reported in the first half of 2019.