A neo-Nazi podcaster and fugitive has again been sanctioned by a federal judge in a major rally lawsuit, now owing nearly $1 million in fines.
Robert “Azzmador” Ray is one of more than a dozen defendants named in the federal Sines v. Kessler lawsuit, which sought to hold key organizers and participants of the Unite the Right rally responsible for the violence that descended upon Charlottesville in August 2017.
Unlike many of the defendants, Ray has been wholly absent from the lawsuit, failing to respond to any motions or show up at trial. This had led to a warrant for his arrest for contempt of court and steep, still-growing economic sanctions.
U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon added around $18,000 to Ray’s total on March 30 following a petition from the plaintiffs’ counsel to recover their reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees.
“To date, our case has resulted in nearly $800,000 in damages and sanctions against Ray — and a warrant for his arrest,” Integrity First for America, which funded the lawsuit, tweeted after the order.
The figure was less than what the plaintiffs’ counsel had initially sought. According to Moon, the plaintiffs sought “a total award of $25,960.75 in attorney’s fees and out-of-pocket expenses,” but Moon reduced the figure “after scrutinizing plaintiffs’ petitions and supporting documentation.”
“This ‘reflect[ed] minor reductions in the hourly rates sought by plaintiffs’ attorneys, but no reduction in the hourly rate sought by their paralegals,’ and a ‘slight reduction in the number of hours claimed’,” Moon wrote.
Upon recommendation from a magistrate judge, Moon also denied the plaintiffs’ request for $2,025.75 in out-of-pocket expenses for Ray’s depositions being denied.
Even among those sanctioned, Ray stands out due to his apparent disappearance and fugitive status both for a criminal warrant stemming from the Aug. 11 torch rally and a bench warrant for contempt of court for a failure to comply in 2020.
Ray was also accused in the lawsuit of helping plan the torch rally, which drew worldwide condemnation in its wake due to the violence and hate speech spewed by participants.
During the trial, plaintiffs’ counsel presented a trove of digital evidence against Ray. The evidence, which stretched from February 2017 up the rallies, depicted Ray as openly racist and anti-Semitic, with several messages calling for violence against minority groups before and during the rallies.
Because Ray was not present for the trial, the jury was instructed that they could choose to view this behavior and the evidence in an adverse light, though only against him and not the other defendants. Consequently, Ray was found by the jury to be liable to pay $700,000 in damages, with the bulk of that sum being punitive in origin.
Although virtually all of the defendants who were ordered to pay damages have filed post-trial motions seeking to reduce the figure or be retried, Ray continues to remain silent and out of the public eye.