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Neo-Nazi recruit points to leader as killer

The man who was arrested Thursday night says he joined the group "just to belong." The leader is caught in Holiday.

By COLLEEN JENKINS and CAMILLE C. SPENCER
Published March 24, 2006


John Ditullio said he became a recruit for the white-men-only American Nazis only a couple of weeks ago. He was proud of his race, he said, and joining the group seemed like the right thing to do.

"I felt like I loved them," he said during a jailhouse interview Friday afternoon, "that they really had my back, that they cared for me.

"To belong. That was it. Just to belong."

They gave him a red recruit T-shirt. It said "Blood, honor, loyalty." They hung out in a mobile home on Teak Street in New Port Richey. Four Nazi flags flew outside.

They weren't a violent group, he said. But name calling with the next-door neighbor, Patricia Wells, heated up last week.

By early Thursday morning, name calling became much worse. Somebody broke into Wells' home and stabbed her in the face and hands. She survived and blamed the attack on neo-Nazis next door.

Wells was lucky, in a sense. A 17-year-old boy who was with her that night died of his wounds Friday afternoon at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Kristofer King, a friend of Wells' son, died at 3:40 p.m. when he was taken off life support.

Ditullio, 20, was the smirking, red-shirted man taken into custody Thursday by a Pasco County SWAT team. But in a press conference Friday, it was clear that the investigation was focused on another man: Ditullio's boss and fellow neo-Nazi, Shawn A. Plott. Plott lived at the mobile home and other addresses in Pasco.

Ditullio said he encountered Plott early Thursday, spitting and grinding his teeth.

"I've taken care of them forever," Ditullio recalled Plott saying.

By Friday afternoon, deputies had tracked Plott to Holiday and arrested him on unrelated charges.

In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Ditullio detailed how his brief encounter with the Nazis landed him in jail.

The Times ran Ditullio's story by Pasco sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin, who said it "sounds right. This individual was the front man."

A Sheriff's Office report details the neighbor dispute that Ditullio said led to the stabbing.

A woman named Christine Cristinzio told deputies March 14 that a black man had pointed a gun at her while was at the neo-Nazi clubhouse. The man, who was visiting Wells, said he would shoot Cristinzio if she called him a racial epithet one more time, according to the sheriff's report.

Cristinzio is Plott's girlfriend, Ditullio said, and the incident riled Plott.

"Only time will tell," Ditullio recalled Plott saying. "They'll be out of here soon."

Wednesday night was supposed to be one of celebration. The Nazis' club president was returning from a trip, and his fellow members were drinking in honor of his return.

They drank a lot, Ditullio said. Nearly every day.

Someone put Xanax, an antianxiety drug, in Ditullio's whiskey. That, he said, was a typical practical joke played on recruits. He grew groggy.

He doesn't remember Plott leaving, but he heard him rattling the front gate upon his return. Ditullio went outside to see what was going on. Plott, he said, was "acting all strange."

"I've taken care of them forever," Ditullio recalled Plott saying.

Ditullio went inside. He could barely stay awake. But the group's vice president had other plans.

"Something's going down, man," the vice president said, according to Ditullio, who didn't know how to spell the vice president's name.

The vice president gave Ditullio three guns and told him to stay put. The other four, including Plott and Cristinzio, were leaving.

"My orders were to hold down the fort," Ditullio said. "I was supposed to shoot at the cops (if they came)."

Ditullio fell asleep. When he woke up early Thursday, he looked into the yard through the home's security cameras. He saw deputies, then members of the special weapons and tactics team, their guns trained on the clubhouse.

Alarmed, Ditullio took four more Xanax tablets, then smoked marijuana. After about 45 minutes, he passed out.

SWAT members, meanwhile, stayed outside for what appeared to be a standoff.

At 1:45 p.m., the SWAT team stormed the mobile home. Ditullio said he didn't wake up until the officers were yelling at him to put his hands behind his head.

He grinned as a deputy led him handcuffed from the home. He wore the red recruit shirt.

"It was funny," he said, cracking his first smile of the interview. "You've got all these cops out for little old me. I didn't do nothing, man."

He didn't want authorities to find Plott, the one man in the clubhouse with whom he had connected. He respected Plott "for doing what he believed in."

Ditullio said he worked for Plott painting houses. Plott was once an officer of a biker gang called the Iron Coffins, Ditullio said, but was kicked out "because he was too mean."

As for the other members, the ones who were blaming him for the stabbings, Ditullio said they had betrayed the brotherhood.

"You're just a pawn," he said. "Look what they did to me, man. Just take a look at me."

He sniffled as he spoke, and his left eye twitched. He said inmates had jumped him early Friday after hearing about the stabbings on TV. Guards broke up the fight with pepper spray.

Ditullio popped open his blue jumpsuit to reveal a swastika tattooed on his chest. He said talking to a reporter would get him killed.

"I don't care," he said. "I still believe in my race."

Pasco deputies arrested Plott, 33, as he was getting into a car in Holiday in southwestern Pasco County. He was held on charges unrelated to the stabbings. His criminal record includes marijuana possession, battery, driving under the influence and other traffic violations.

Plott also has a child neglect charge from 1999, when he was arrested by Pinellas County deputies and extradited to Carroll County, Ohio, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show.

Vice and narcotics Lt. Robert Sullivan said the neo-Nazi group to which Ditullio and Plott are linked has about 80 or 90 members concentrated in the Moon Lake, Hudson and Griffin Park areas. The group is a "spinoff of the Aryan Nation."

[Last modified March 25, 2006, 00:27:02]


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