10-08-87 10:51 ped krishna states WHEELING, W.Va. (UPI) _ Two Hare Krishna swamis have ple

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10-08-87 10:51 ped krishna states WHEELING, W.Va. (UPI) _ Two Hare Krishna swamis have pleaded innocent to arson charges while fellow devotees chanted and clapped outside the federal courthouse. Swami Kirtananda Bhaktipada, born Keith Ham, and Thomas Drescher, also known as Tirtha Swami, entered their pleas Thursday in response to an eight-count indictment disclosed Sept. 16 by a federal grand jury. No trial dates were set. The two swamis are accused of burning a building in 1983 at the Krishna community in Marshall County to collect $40,000 from Inland Insurance Co. of Huntington. The indictment accuses each man of one count of conspiracy, one count of using a fire explosive device to commit a felony, one count of malicious destruction of a building and five counts of mail fraud. Each count has a maximum penalty ranging from 5-10 years in prison and fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Bhaktipada is the leader of the 4,000-acre Krishna community near Moundsville. Drescher is serving a life sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary for murdering another devotee in 1983. Krishna devotees continued to chant and clap outside the courthouse after the hearing ended. Bhaktipada and Drescher have said the federal charges represent continued harassment of their community by law enforcers.

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