Joseph Rubino was hauling guns through northwestern New Jersey when his white Chevy van left the road and slammed into a tree.
His passenger was seriously injured and airlifted to a hospital after the July 24 crash. But what Rubino, a felon, had as cargo piqued the interest of state police: a small trove of firearms, court records show.
That find led to a search of his residence, and an even bigger cache, including a grenade launcher, more than a dozen other firearms, “numerous silencers,” an armored vest, drugs – and a box stuffed with neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda, the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey said Tuesday.
Rubino, 57, was charged with possession of firearms by a felon, possession with intent to distribute meth and possession of firearms while drug trafficking, the office said. A conviction of the latter charge alone is punishable by life in prison. It is not clear whether Rubino has an attorney.
The find comes amid an apparently growing white supremacist threat that some former officials say is outpacing the FBI’s efforts to combat it. Authorities believe white supremacist ideology fueled the El Paso, Texas, attack this month, in which a gunman killed 22 people.
Rubino’s passenger, Kenneth Coe, was arrested in May after he was carrying firearms and a substance police suspected was crystal meth during a traffic stop, local media reported. New Jersey State Police did not respond to a request for comment about his status.
Rubino’s felony record stems from a 1999 conviction for writing bad checks. He was sentenced to probation, the New Jersey Herald reported.
Rubino’s suspected cache included a grenade launcher, designed to attach to the underside of a rifle and modeled after the military’s M203 launcher; it is used commonly for signal flares but must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as a destructive device if used to fire ammunition. Police also found two shotguns that had sawed-off barrels, which gives the shotgun pellets more speed and wider distribution when fired, making blasts more deadly at a closer range.
Rubino also hadneo-Nazi and racist paraphernalia, authorities said, including shirts and bumper stickers with the “SS bolts” denoting the Schutzstaffel – the notorious Nazi paramilitary group. The symbol is “sometimes used by outlaw motorcycle gang members,” court documents said.
A racist manual purporting to offer instructions on how to own black slaves also was found, court documents show.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Alex Horton