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White supremacist serving life sentence fined for prison misconduct

James Alex Fields Jr.
Steve Helber
AP (File)
James Alex Fields Jr. is led out of Charlottesville General District Court courthouse after his sentencing on state charges.

James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly threatened a correctional officer and brandished a “dangerous weapon.”

A white supremacist who killed a woman when he rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville has been fined for allegedly threatening a correctional officer and brandishing what an inmate disciplinary record called a “dangerous weapon” at the prison where he is serving a life sentence.

Federal prosecutors disclosed the misconduct incidents in court documents as they asked a judge to order James Alex Fields Jr. to turn over $650 from his inmate trust account to make a court-ordered payment toward restitution to the victims of his crimes.

In documents filed last week, prosecutors said the victims have not received any restitution payments in the nearly four years since Fields was sentenced. He owes a total of $81,600 in restitution and assessments in the criminal case, prosecutors wrote.

“Fields is scheduled to remain incarcerated for life. At his current payment rate of $100 per year, it would take him 816 years to pay his financial obligation. Such a payment rate effectively avoids the majority of Fields’s restitution,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Krista Consiglio Frith wrote. They argued that Fields should be required to turn over $650 from his account. Fields had asked in a hand-written motion that he only be required to turn over $298.

Hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, 2017, ostensibly to protest city plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (The statue was removed in 2021.)

Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, is serving a life sentence for murder and hate crimes for ramming his car into a crowd of people protesting against the white nationalists, injuring dozens and killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist.

Fields is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Springfield, Missouri.

The documents filed by prosecutors describe a series of incidents in prison from 2019 to 2021, including Fields being “insolent” to a staff member or being disruptive, which resulted in having his phone or email privileges temporarily suspended. The incidents for which Fields was fined include: making a threatening remark to a correctional officer, $61; and being found in possession of what the inmate discipline record called a “dangerous” homemade weapon, $250.

Prosecutors wrote that because Fields has not released money from his account to pay the disciplinary fines, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has restricted Fields from using the majority of the money in his account until he agrees to release the money to pay the fines. He is only allowed to spend $25 per month at the prison commissary, with certain items excluded from the limitation, including over-the-counter medications.

Prosecutors said the restriction would not interfere with the court’s ability to order Fields to turn over $650 from his account.

“Fields’s restitution obligation was imposed in his amended judgment on October 1, 2019,” prosecutors wrote. “It, therefore, predates Fields’s institutional misconduct fines and has priority over the institutional fines that Fields has opted not to pay to date, which he had two years to pay.”

Denise Lunsford, one of Fields’s attorneys in the criminal case, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Read more about Charlottesville, five years after "Unite the Right"