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Minnesota white supremacist sold gun to informant, charges say

David Hanners | St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL -- A Hastings man who cops say is tied to a racist skinhead gang now faces federal charges after he allegedly sold a gun to a police informant.

Samuel David Shoen, 35, was picked up by St. Paul police in December shortly after they say he handed over a stolen 9 mm pistol — which had been modified to fire rapidly like a machine gun — in return for $3,500, and discussed future sales of guns and grenades.

That arrest resulted in charges in Ramsey County, but a federal grand jury has now indicted him on a variety of gun-related charges.

The indictment accuses him of three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, two counts of being a felon in possession of ammunition and a single count of having methamphetamine with intent to distribute it.

He was also accused of having a firearm while committing a drug-related crime.

Shoen has been in custody since his arrest after a police chase Dec. 17. U.S. Magistrate Steven Rau issued an order Thursday afternoon for his continued detention, saying there was “clear and convincing evidence” that no conditions would ensure public safety if he were freed.

Shoen was wearing a bullet-resistant vest when police arrested him following a chase that ended in Woodbury. A Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol was under the front passenger seat and Shoen had the magazine for it in his jacket pocket. (Police also found a Sig Sauer AR-15 rifle and ammo in his car trunk.)

Rau’s detention order noted the circumstances surrounding the arrest, and said Shoen has a history “of crimes that involved either the possession of a firearm or violent behavior.”

The earlier state complaint against him says he told a friend that if police pulled him over, “he would shoot it out” with them.

He didn’t.

Shoen, a divorced father of two (his ex and Anoka County sued him for child support in 2012) was named in a federal criminal complaint Jan. 14, and was transferred to federal custody after that. The grand jury indicted him Monday.

State officials contend Shoen was affiliated with a white supremacist gang known as the Hammerskins. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which monitors activities of hate groups, said they weren’t aware of any Hammerskin affiliates in Minnesota, but there were several regional groups throughout the country.

“The Hammerskins are one of the most violent racist skinhead groups in the U.S.,” Beirich said. “This is the hardcore of the racist skinhead movement.”

Officials also claimed Shoen had close ties to the Native Mob, a regional gang that sprang up in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Federal prosecutors, who indicted and convicted a number of Native Mob members last year, say the group has its hands in murder, robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes.

Shoen has two convictions that make him ineligible to have guns. He was convicted in Dakota County of making terroristic threats in 1998. Four years later, he was convicted (again, in Dakota County) of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The latter conviction came in a plea bargain; in return for his plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of second-degree assault.

According to court records, the current case against Shoen began to come together in late November when an informant told police that the man carried around with him a fully automatic Uzi with a silencer, and that he was selling grenades for $375 a pop.

On Dec. 11, a St. Paul cop working undercover accompanied the informant to meet Shoen in the parking lot of Davanni’s on White Bear Avenue in St. Paul. Before the meeting, the undercover officer gave the informant $1,000 and wired him for sound.

Shoen arrived in a car driven by a female; another woman was in the back seat, the federal complaint said. When the driver parked the car, she and the other woman went inside the restaurant.

The informant and Shoen met near Shoen’s car, and the $1,000 was exchanged for a brown paper bag. In the bag: an RPB Industries sM10 9 mm pistol, more commonly known as a “Mac 10.” It had a loaded, 36-round magazine.

When agents later traced the gun, they found it had been reported stolen in West St. Paul in 2009.

The officer gave the informant another $2,500. As police listened in, the informant went in the restaurant, gave Shoen the money and talked about future purchase of guns and grenades.

Four days later, Shoen and another informant drove to northern Minnesota, allegedly to inspect Shoen’s marijuana-growing operation. State officials say that on the drive, Shoen began to suspect the man was a snitch, pulled a gun on him and threatened to shoot him.

The informant talked his way out of the tight spot, but when they checked into a motel in McGregor, 123 miles north of St. Paul, the informant waited until Shoen was showering, snatched the keys to Shoen’s Buick and took off for the Twin Cities, stranding Shoen.

The next day, the informant turned the car over to police, who found an AR-15 rifle and body armor inside.

In a scheme to catch Shoen, police parked the car at a Walmart in Vadnais Heights and had the informant tell him that’s where he’d left it.

Cops set up surveillance. Eventually, Shoen and two other men in a Saturn pulled into the lot. Shoen went in the store and emerged a short time later, but instead of getting his car, he got back into the Saturn and it pulled away.

Police pursued. Officers turned on their lights and sirens, but the Saturn did not stop. Eventually, a trooper with the Minnesota State Patrol used what is known as a PIT maneuver (short for “precision immobilization technique”) and used his squad car to force the fleeing vehicle off Interstate 694 and into a snowbank near Valley Creek Road.

According to the state charges, one of the other men in the car — who’d picked up Shoen in McGregor — claimed Shoen had predicted trouble, “that it was his ‘last day,’ and that he ‘was not going down without a fight.’ ”

The man said that during the later police chase, Shoen kept telling him to hand his gun to him, but the man refused.

“Shoen kept repeating, ‘I’m not going to jail! I’m not going to jail!’ ” the man said, according to the state complaint.

The federal indictment accuses Shoen of having the sM10 pistol Dec. 11 and the Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol and the Sig-Sauer AR-15 rifle Dec. 17. It also accuses him of being in possession of methamphetamine Dec. 17, as well as having a gun while he had the drug.

The indictment also says that on Dec. 17, he had “multiple rounds of .40 caliber ammunition,” as well as “multiple rounds” of 5.56 mm ammo.

The government is also seeking forfeiture of the guns and ammunition.

The charges are in addition to ones filed by Ramsey County prosecutors in December. That criminal complaint accused Shoen of possession of methamphetamine, three counts of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person, and wearing or possessing a bullet-resistant vest while committing a crime.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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