Five Aryan Brotherhood Members Charged in Superseding Indictment with Murder in Aid of Racketeering
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment Thursday that adds four counts of murder in aid of racketeering against defendants alleging that the four murders were committed in furtherance of criminal acts perpetrated by the California Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris announced.
Thursday’s indictment expands the original 2019 charges by adding four new murder in aid of racketeering counts against five defendants: Ronald Yandell, 58; William Sylvester, 53; Brant Daniel, 46; Pat Brady, 50; and Jason Corbett, 49.
“This superseding indictment strikes at the heart of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang with five defendants now facing murder charges that carry with them the possibility of the death penalty,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “This white supremacist gang plagues our communities inside and outside prison and are responsible for some of the most brutal crimes committed within prison walls. We will continue to use every law enforcement tool to protect the communities impacted by this gang’s violence and criminal activities.”
“Prison gangs, like the Aryan Brotherhood, cannot hide behind bars and commit heinous act of violence without impunity,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris. “These additional charges deal another significant blow to this criminal organization and sends the message that we are relentless in our pursuit of those who perpetuate violence.”
“I am proud of the dedication and hard work that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff put into this investigation while working cooperatively alongside federal investigators and prosecutors,” Chief of CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) Derrick Marion said. “Our agents shared their expertise and strong investigative abilities in an effort to combat the dangerous influence of prison gangs both inside and outside of our institutions.”
According to court documents, between 2011 and 2016, Aryan Brotherhood (AB) members and associates engaged in racketeering activity, committing multiple acts involving murder and drug trafficking offenses. Yandell and Sylvester oversaw a significant heroin and methamphetamine trafficking operation from their shared cell. They used smuggled-in cellphones to direct their drug trafficking activity from their prison cell to the streets of Sacramento and other California cities. Using a contraband cellphone, Yandell and Sylvester communicated with AB members and associates to direct drug trafficking activities, membership in the AB, order murders, and oversee other criminal activities.
The new charges allege that the five AB members murdered four other inmates as part of their gang activities and conspired to murder several others. The indictment charges that on Oct. 7, 2011, Sylvester murdered an inmate at Folsom State Prison and, on Aug. 12, 2015, Yandell ordered AB associates to carry out an order to murder a rival prison gang member at Folsom State Prison. In addition, the new indictment alleges that AB member Daniel killed an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison on Oct. 29, 2016, and AB members Corbett and Brady murdered an inmate on July 20, 2018, at High Desert State Prison as part of their role in the gang.
This case is the product of an investigation by the DEA with substantial investigative assistance from the CDCR, the Vallejo Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
If convicted on the murder in aid of racketeering charges, each of the five defendants face a mandatory life sentence, or the possibility of the death penalty. The Attorney General will decide whether to seek the death penalty at a later time. Should the Attorney General determine that the circumstances of the offense are such that a sentence of death is justified, the law requires that notice be filed with the court at a reasonable time before trial. The indictment’s other charges include a range of maximum sentences, including up to life in prison, and a number of defendants also face a range of mandatory minimum sentences of five to 10 years in prison. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.