The former Texas lawyer for the Proud Boys allegedly used the ultra-nationalist group to surveil on a longtime enemy as part of an “assassination” plot in 2018, according to court documents.
Jason Lee Van Dyke, 39, allegedly tried to use members of the Arizona chapter of the all-male, far-right, self-described “Western chauvinist” group to allegedly injure or murder Thomas Christopher Retzlaff, according to an Oak Point Police Department report.
First reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the report is mentioned in a series of court documents in a years-long legal battle between Retzlaff and Van Dyke, a former member of the Proud Boys, whose law license was previously suspended. (It has since been reinstated). While the allegations did not lead to any charges, they were used to bolster Retzlaff’s case to have Van Dyke’s civil suit against him dismissed—which was denied.
“No litigant, including Retzlaff, should be forced to bear the stress and expense of seeking protection from an attorney’s abuse and threats of murder,” Retzlaff’s attorney Jeffrey Dorrell wrote in a March 15 dismissal motion. “This is especially true when they are evidenced by an audio recording of an attorney-plaintiff himself describing plans for an ambush and assassination of not only Retzlaff but his counsel.”
According to the dismissal motion, “Retzlaff has known of Van Dyke’s threats of murder and mayhem since March 2018,” after the suspended lawyer repeatedly told Retzlaff to “kill himself and made multiple threats of physical violence.”
“No more lawsuit. See you this weekend with my rifle,” Van Dyke allegedly once said to Retzlaff.
In a “secret audio recording by an FBI informant” obtained by Retzlaff through a Freedom of Information request, Van Dyke allegedly described “two separate plans”, one of which “ended in the death of Retzlaff” and the other which consisted of “a series of acts” that Van Dyke hoped would “terrorize Retzlaff and two other victims” and force them “to live in fear of when he would show up,” according to the court document.
“On the recording, Van Dyke said that he had spent the better part of the week planning it and he had satellite photos through Google Earth and members of the Proud Boys Arizona Chapter on the ground doing surveillance on Tom Retzlaff,” Oak Point Police Sgt. Brian Howard wrote in the police report, before noting that Van Dyke complained to the FBI informant that Retzlaff lived in a high rise apartment.
Van Dyke, in a March 16 filing lodged in response to the dismissal motion, stated “there is no credible or admissible evidence before this court to suggest” Retzlaff’s “wild theories of a conspiracy to murder both him and his counter have any credibility whatsoever.”
Van Dyke also stated in the filing that he can do “little more in this case other than to call a frivolous motion that which it plainly is: frivolous, outrageous, and filed solely for the purpose of harassing” him.
In a statement to The Daily Beast on Wednesday, Van Dyke asserted that the accusations are “completely, 100 percent false” and insisted that the Proud Boys had nothing to do with the alleged plot. “The notion that there was some type of surveillance by them on Retzlaff is buck. It’s complete garbage,” he said.
“I don’t want anything to do with Thomas Christopher Retzlaff, I’ve never wanted anything to do with him,” Van Dyke told The Daily Beast. “He’s a psychopath and you guys would be very wise to verify anything that he tells you. He’s a multiple-time convicted felon. He’s bad news. He’s a nutcase.”
Van Dyke claimed that he is no longer associated with the Proud Boys and hasn’t been for about a year. “I’m moving on with bigger and better things in my life,” he added.
The Oak Point Police Department, the FBI, and the Arizona chapter of the Proud Boys did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Van Dyke’s long-time tangle with Retzlaff began in March 2017. Van Dyke, who practiced law privately, had just accepted a felony prosecutor role in the district attorney’s office in Victoria County, Texas. But shortly before Van Dyke was slated to start work, Retzlaff lodged a complaint about him with the D.A.’s office.
“I live in San Antonio, and Victoria County is right next to where I live,” Retzlaff told The Daily Beast in 2018. “When I found out Van Dyke had got the job there, I had some communications with the district attorney and said ‘this guy is a crazy person, why would you hire him? Didn’t you use Google?’”
In 2018, Retzlaff also made a complaint to the State Bar of Texas, accusing Van Dyke of racism and of running an abusive Twitter account under a pseudonym. Van Dyke, who denied the allegations, counter-sued Retzlaff in March 2018 for $100 million, accusing Retzlaff of writing libelous blog posts calling Van Dyke a Nazi and a white supremacist.
Retzlaff has previously denied owning the blog, ViaView Files, to The Daily Beast.
In September 2018, Van Dyke was charged with a misdemeanor count of falsifying a police report after claiming thieves broke into his car and took off with his guns. While he has previously denied lying about the incident, he was released on a $1,000 bond.
Three months later, the 39-year-old was issued a new bail hearing after making alleged death threats to Retzlaff. Van Dyke reportedly did not show up to the Dec. 21 bail hearing, resulting in an arrest warrant—but he later turned himself in at Denton County Jail and he later reportedly explained he missed the hearing because of a hunting trip to Alaska.
“Go fuck yourself and what’s left of your miserable life,” Van Dyke later wrote Retzlaff in a Dec. 12, 2018 email, according to the court documents. “You have destroyed my life, and for that offense, you will pay with your own. That’s not a threat. That’s a PROMISE motherfucker.”
It’s not clear whether that email was the death threat that prompted the new bail hearing.