Back in 2018, Jason "Gravy" DeSimas denied just about everything: being a neo-Nazi, being affiliated with white supremacist groups, and repeatedly using a racial slur during an assault on a Black man at a Lynnwood bar.
On April 8, DeSimas, 47, signed a plea agreement filed in federal court admitting all of that and more, including lying to the FBI. The former owner of a Tacoma tattoo parlor accepted a deal that could lead to three years and one month in federal prison, if U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones approves the recommendation. The hate crime charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The false statements charge carries a maximum penalty of five years.
DeSimas told investigators he was a prospective member of the Hammerskins, a white supremacist group, the agreement states.
The details of the agreement note that DeSimas and three other defendants discussed ways to provoke fights with groups they disliked, such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, using the strategy of "mutual combat." They figured picking fights, waiting for a reaction and letting like-minded associates join the fray would allow group members to claim they were acting in self-defense.
That was the idea DeSimas and the three other defendants in the case tried to apply shortly after midnight in Lynnwood on Dec. 8, 2018, according to court records.
"The Group went on to the dance floor and started acting loudly and aggressively," the plea agreement states. "(The victim), a black man, was the disc jockey at the bar, and he worked on his DJ equipment, playing music, on a small stage next to the dance floor. DeSimas and several other members of the Group saluted each other with outstretched arms with a salute that appeared identical to the Nazi salute multiple times, while on the dance floor or walking around the bar."
When the disc jockey took a brief break, one of the men in DeSimas' group began to manipulate the DJ's equipment, records state. The DJ returned and tried to stop him. DeSimas and other group members surrounded the man.
"What are you doing, (n-word)?" DeSimas said, according to the plea agreement.
The DJ told the men they had to leave.
"We're not going anywhere, (n-word)," DeSimas replied.
The DJ cursed the group. DeSimas punched the DJ in the face, knocking him down and using the slur again, records state. He and the other men continued to kick and hit the man, using more slurs. They assaulted two other biracial men who tried to help the DJ, again using slurs, records state.
By signing the plea agreement and admitting those acts, DeSimas acknowledged his second offense: that he lied in his first interview with investigators when he denied that he or anyone else in the group used racial slurs. His sentencing is scheduled for July 8.
Another defendant, Daniel Delbert Dorson, 24 of Corvallis, Oregon, has already pleaded guilty in the case and is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 19. Jason Stanley, 44, of Boise, Idaho, and Randy Smith, 39, of Eugene, Oregon, are also charged in the case and are in custody awaiting trial.
In 2018, protesters in Tacoma, including local politicians, marched outside the tattoo parlor on East 72nd Street, contending that DeSimas and other staff members were affiliated with white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups. A News Tribune story about the incident quoted protesters, as well as DeSimas.
"I'm not a Nazi," he said.