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UPDATED: Judge orders Cobb’s bail at $1 million cash only

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BISMARCK — A judge Friday set cash-only bail at $1 million for a white supremacist charged with terrorizing residents in the tiny town of Leith.

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When South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland asked from a Bismarck courtroom if he had any questions about his bail, Cobb, appearing handcuffed in green jail garb via interactive television from the Mercer County Courthouse in Stanton, asked only one.

“Where do I pay the million dollars now?” he said.

Cobb, who bought up property in the small town of Leith with the intention of creating a haven for white supremacists, is charged with seven felony counts of terrorizing for allegedly approaching Leith residents with loaded firearms Nov. 15 and 16.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Byers, appearing on behalf of the state, said Cobb patrolled Leith with a long-barrel gun with his finger on the trigger as he confronted residents. Byers added the incidents were captured on video and in photographs and witnessed by multiple people.

Cobb has been held without bail since his Nov. 16 arrest, but the Supreme Court this week issued a supervisory writ stating he was entitled to “reasonable bail with reasonable conditions” because he isn’t charged with a capital crime.

Byers recommended the $1 million bail, noting Cobb has no local family ties and that “he has made an offer to the press that he would leave the state of North Dakota if the charges were dismissed.”

Byers also said Cobb has deeded away all of the property he owned in Leith to other people or his Creativity religion, and that he skipped bail on a hate-crime charge in Canada, “which would indicate that he’s willing to run rather than answer to any charges that are laid against him.”

Cobb fled to the United States after being charged Dec. 31, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the willful promotion of hatred. Authorities have said Cobb can’t be extradited back to Canada because there is no similar U.S. law for the offense.

Feland, referring to the Canadian charge, said, “it is of significant concern to the court that you actually fled another country to avoid prosecution.”

Cobb’s attorney, Ryan Heintz, requested bail be set at $50,000, similar to bail set earlier this week for Kynan Dutton, who faces similar charges to Cobb for the same incidents.

Heintz didn’t dispute the severity of the charges but said the elements of the criminal complaint are “definitely” under debate and will be challenged at Cobb’s preliminary hearing Jan. 13.

Attorneys said Cobb’s only criminal history in the United States was a 1997 contempt of court conviction in Hawaii for which he received six months of probation.

Cobb told the judge, “I’d be willing to wear an ankle bracelet if that makes a difference.”

Feland set several conditions with the $1 million cash-only bail, including that Cobb have no direct or indirect contact with his alleged victims, stay in North Dakota and have written permission to stay at a local address. He’s also not allowed to enter Leith unless accompanied by authorities to retrieve his personal belongings.

Leith Mayor Ryan Schock said he was happy with the cash-only bail amount and that it should put residents’ minds at ease.

“There’s probably no way in hell he’s coming up with that,” he said.

City leaders plan to condemn Cobb’s house in Leith and demolish it after he missed a city-imposed deadline to install sewer and water service. Schock said he still hadn’t received the condemnation paperwork from the city attorney as of late Friday afternoon.

Cobb and Dutton, while charged in Grant County, are being held in the Mercer County jail in Stanton.

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Mike Nowatzki
Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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