Two former California men who used their wealth to mass-mail messages of hate have disappeared from Sandpoint, Idaho.
Human rights activists say they hope the departures of R. Vincent Bertollini
and Carl E. Story
spell the end of their 11th Hour Remnant Messenger organization
last summer when he faced the possibility of going to prison. The 62-year-old self-described evangelist is now a federal fugitive, and apparently the focus of a grand jury investigation.
Story isn't wanted, but his house is up for sale, and the 68-year-old businessman hasn't been seen in recent weeks in Sandpoint.
Since 1998, the two-man organization mailed out thousands of white supremacy
pamphlets, videos, posters and newsletters and operated a Web site
, which remains active.
The organization developed ties with the Aryan Nations
and America's Promise Ministries, which both promote brands of white supremacy religion.
Bertollini boasted in 1998 that the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger had spent $1.5 million on mass mailings, without a membership base or donations.
The 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, under Bertollini's signature, bought a $110,000 house
in Hayden Lake for Richard Butler last year after he abandoned his Aryan compound in the wake of a $6.3 million civil judgment.
Always flashy, Bertollini rented a convertible and joined Butler for an Aryan Nations parade in downtown Coeur d'Alene in October 2000.
Bertollini promised that he and Butler were in the region to stay, and would use the Internet and direct mailings to promote their racist views.
He sat down at his computer early this year and posted an anti-Semitic
message on his 11th Hour Web site that began: "This year is the beginning of great sorrows."
For him, the message was prophetic. He was arrested
for drunken driving a few days later -- his third time in two years.
He couldn't find a lawyer to represent him, Bertollini claimed, and he failed in an attempt to move his DUI trial elsewhere.
Bertollini said in court papers that he couldn't get a fair trial in Bonner County because "I am a high-profile individual." He also accused all the county's judges of being biased against him.
He asked for a postponement of his trial so he could undergo eye surgery, but that request was denied.
Then, without explanation, Bertollini failed to show up for his trial in Sandpoint in July. District Court Judge James Michaud issued a bench warrant for his arrest, but deputies couldn't find him.
A few days earlier, a moving van was seen parked outside his home, which was for sale, neighbors say.
About that same time, his wife of more than 30 years said she wanted a divorce, acquaintances say.
Now, Bertollini is officially a federal fugitive, the object of an international manhunt.
Story, who has health problems, has put his $369,000 house in Sandpoint up for sale and reportedly is in California.
Law enforcement officials and others who know Bertollini say he's reportedly in Ireland, but his whereabouts couldn't be confirmed. There also are reports that he's in Costa Rica or the Virgin Islands.
Even his estranged wife, Leslie, can't locate him to serve divorce papers, said the couple's daughter, Lauri Kosky, of Santa Fe, N.M.
Leslie Bertollini, who also uses the name Leslie Bert, has moved from Sandpoint and declined requests to talk about her husband.
He also has used aliases, including Richard Bert and Vincent Bert.
Acquaintances say Leslie Bertollini doesn't share her husband's anti-Semitic views or religious beliefs that white people are God's chosen children.
If convicted, Bertollini faced the likelihood of one to 10 years in prison because it would be his third DUI in two years.