Three former Florida prison guards, who were members of a Ku Klux Klan chapter, were convicted of conspiring to kill a former prisoner. The plot was reportedly hatched in retaliation for a scuffle that occurred at the Reception and Medical Center (RMC).
In a previous article, PLN covered the arrests of David Elliot Moran, Charles Thomas Newcomb and Thomas Jordan Driver, who were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. [See: PLN Feb. 2016, p.1].
According to prosecutors, Driver was bitten by an unnamed African American prisoner during a fight at RMC, and feared he had been infected with hepatitis or HIV. In late 2014, Newcomb, Moran and Driver met with an FBI informant who had infiltrated a KKK affiliate in Jacksonville called the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Driver told the informant that he had gotten into a “physical altercation” with the prisoner, who had since been released. Driver, Newcomb and Moran told the informant they wanted to see the former prisoner “six feet under.” Their plan was to inject him with insulin to make his death appear accidental.
Newcomb, who identified himself as the “Exalted Cyclops” of the KKK chapter and had been terminated as a guard during his probationary period, told Moran and the informant they could shoot the former prisoner if necessary. In early 2015, the informant told the three guards he could contact a “professional” to do the hit. “Sounds good,” Driver said. The FBI then staged a homicide scene and took pictures, and placed the former prisoner in protective custody.
When shown a cell phone photo of the staged murder scene, one of the guards shook the informant’s hand “in gratitude,” and Driver said he was happy with the results. The trio was then arrested, on April 2, 2015.
“We wanted to see their reaction because, a lot of times in these cases, the defendants will claim they weren’t serious,” said prosecutor Nick Cox. “So, when these guys were shown the photos, they were pleased.”
They “were very proud of the killing,” added Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “These Klansmen plotted to murder a black inmate after he was released from prison, but swift action and clever investigative tactics on behalf of investigators foiled their plot and may have saved a life.”
In March 2017, Driver, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to four years. A Columbia County jury found Moran, 49, and Newcomb, 45, guilty of the same charge on August 16, 2017; they were sentenced the following month and will each serve 12 years in prison.
Sources: www.jacksonville.com, www.washingtonpost.com, www.huffingtonpost.com, www.wcjb.com
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