Matthew Heimbach’s probation revoked, sentenced to 38 days in jail


White nationalist group leader Matthew Heimbach was led out of a Louisville courtroom in handcuffs Tuesday after a Louisville judge revoked his probation.

Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, was charged in 2016 with misdemeanor harassment after he repeatedly pushed a woman at a Donald Trump campaign rally in Louisville.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to second-degree disorderly conduct in July 2017 but avoided jail time when District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke waived a 90-day sentence on the condition he not re-offend within two years.

But after picking up new criminal charges in Indiana in March, prosecutors with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office moved to have his probation revoked.

In court on Tuesday, Burke ordered to serve 38 days in Metro Corrections, telling him, “I really hope that I do not see you back in this court.”

She said he would need to serve the 38 days in jail and not on home incarceration.

Susan Ely, who leads the county attorney office’s criminal division, said the 38-day sentence was the result of negotiation and that Heimbach could serve the remaining 52 days if he re-offends again.

“We wanted the absolute guarantee that he went into jail today,” Ely said.

Sheriff’s deputies handcuffed a smiling Heimbach with his hands behind his back and escorted him to the jail.

Steve Durham, assistant director of Metro Corrections, said Heimbach will be housed in a single cell, at least “for the time being.”

Heimbach, 27, was arrested in March after police say he got into a fight at a Paoli, Indiana, mobile home park where he was confronted by a fellow party leader over an alleged affair, a police report details.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, describes the Traditionalist Worker Party as “a neo-Nazi group that advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems.”

Jay Lambert, Heimbach’s public defender, said the Indiana case is still pending and that Heimbach’s agreement with Louisville prosecutors does not mean he’s pleading guilty to the new charges.

“What we structured here was a mechanism where Mr. Heimbach did not admit to any factual wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence to revoke him had he gone through the hearing,” Lambert said.

The attorney said he was not aware if Heimbach was still the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party.

Heimbach entered an Alford plea to the disorderly conduct charge stemming from the Trump rally, which allows the defendant to plead guilty while maintaining their innocence and acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convince a jury.

Meanwhile, a federal civil suit is pending against Heimbach, Trump and others stemming from the incident at the Louisville rally.

Heimbach screamed and yelled at Trump protester and University of Louisville student Kashiya Nwanguma and pushed her repeatedly to make her leave the Kentucky International Convention Center, where the Trump rally was taking place, according to court records.

Protesters, including Nwanguma, allege in the civil suit that they were assaulted by audience members who were riled up by Trump. Heimbach has said in court papers that he acted at the urging of the then-presidential candidate.

The case is pending before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at 502-582-4989 or mglowicki@courier-journal.com. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: http://www.courier-journal.com/mattg.

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