January 1, 2010 - 12:22PM
A US prison guard who acknowledged being a member of white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan has been fired for belonging to a subversive or terrorist organisation, a violation of the county agency's code of ethics.
Wayne Kerschner, an Alachua County Sheriff's Office corrections officer in Florida, was fired on Tuesday following a 10-month internal investigation.
The investigation revealed that Kerschner applied online for membership to the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan a year ago, paid $US30 a month for access to a members-only Klan web site and that the group did a thorough background check that included his credit history before allowing him to join.
The Klan has "extremely high standards", Kerschner told investigators, according to an administrative investigation report released on Thursday. "They do a complete criminal background check on everybody."
A spokesman for the sheriff's office didn't return a phone call on Thursday, and Kerschner's telephone number was not listed.
During the internal probe, Kerschner told investigators the Klan never asked him for information about the jail or the sheriff's office and that he never let his membership interfere with his job. He said he would never get involved with anything criminal and wouldn't ever jeopardise the sheriff's office. He said he viewed the Klan as a religious or political organisation.
"I don't let it interfere with my job," he said, according to the report. "I don't let it interfere with my personal judgment call on anything like that. I mean, I think I am a pretty dang fair officer."
Kerschner told authorities that he blogged regularly on a KKK web site, attended two rallies in Tennessee and was an officer of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He said his wife was also a dues-paying member.
Kerschner gave some details into how he was inducted into the Klan in a process called "naturalisation". He said he was blindfolded during the ceremony and was touched on the shoulder with a sword after taking an oath. He said he was on probation for a month before he could have full access to the Klan web site, which offered information on Klan handshakes and the different colours available for Klan robes.
Kerschner told investigators he was sorry for getting involved with the Klan.
"If I could erase time, I would," he said.