Joseph Moore led a double life for nearly ten years.
The US Army veteran dressed up in a white robe and hood as a hit man for the Ku Klux Klan in North Florida at times. He attended secret meetings and took part in cross-burnings. He even assisted in the planning of a Black man’s murder.
Moore, on the other hand, wore a wire for the FBI during his time in the klan. He recorded his conversations with his fellow klansmen, sometimes even capturing video, and shared what he learned with federal agents in Florida law enforcement attempting to crack down on white supremacists.
One minor blunder, one red flag, he reasoned, meant a certain, violent death.
“I had to realize that this man would shoot me in the face in a heartbeat,” Moore said, his voice deep and slow. He sat in his living room recently, surrounded by twinkling lights on a Christmas tree, recalling a particularly frightening meeting in 2015. However, it was true for many of his days.
He would sit alone in his truck before such meetings, his diaphragm heaving with the deep breathing techniques he learned as an Army-trained sniper.
According to court records from the criminal trial of two klansmen, the married father of four would assist the federal government in foiling at least two murder plots. When the FBI discovered klan members working as law enforcement officers in Florida at the city, county, and state levels, he was an active informant.
He and his family now live under new names in a Florida subdivision with manicured lawns, where his children play in the street. Geese flit between man-made lakes at a leisurely pace. Aside from testifying in court, the 50-year-old has never publicly discussed his undercover work in the KKK.
“The FBI wanted me to gather as much information about these individuals and confirm their identities as possible,” Moore said of law enforcement officers who were active members or worked with the klan.
“From where I sat, with the intelligence laid out in front of me, I can tell you that none of these agencies have any control over any of it.” It is more common and far-reaching than any of them are willing to admit.”
Moore was first asked by the FBI in 2007 to infiltrate a klan group called the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK in rural north Florida. Moore took down license plate numbers and other identifying information from suspected law enforcement officers who attended klan gatherings.
Moore stated that he observed links between the hate group and law enforcement in Florida and Georgia. He claimed to have encountered dozens of police officers, prison guards, sheriff’s deputies, and other law enforcement officers who were members of the Ku Klux Klan and outlaw motorcycle clubs.
Moore alerted the feds to a plot to murder a Hispanic truck driver while operating within the first klan group. Then, he claims, he directed the FBI to Wayne Kerschner, an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was a member of the same group.
The FBI also identified a member of the klan cell working for the Fruitland Park, Florida, police department during Moore’s time in the United Northern and Southern Knights. Moore stated that he had provided identifying information that was helpful in that case.
His time as an informant came at a critical juncture in the country’s counter-terrorism efforts. The FBI released an intelligence assessment about the Ku Klux Klan and other groups attempting to infiltrate law enforcement ranks in 2006.
Moore claimed that he was not a klansman before joining the FBI. He stated that he joined because the government approached him and asked for his assistance. As a veteran and Army-trained sniper, he felt obligated to protect the public from domestic terrorists if his country asked him to do so. He saw himself as a buffer between violent extremists and the general public.
He claimed he never subscribed to their racist ideology. Moore claims that he never used racial slurs while in character, despite the fact that his klan brethren casually tossed them around. But he also acknowledges that successful undercover work required him to change into a wholly different person so that he could convince his klan brothers that he was one of them.