JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One ex-convict from Jacksonville, one from Orange Park and two from Putnam County are among 16 Florida men indicted by the U.S. Attorney in connection with a “white supremacist gang” accused of violent crimes in aid of racketeering.
Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann unsealed the indictment Thursday which claims the defendants were members of Unforgiven, a racketeering enterprise engaged in acts of murder, violence, kidnapping, robbery, obstruction of justice and other offenses.
The indictment also claims Unforgiven used “corrupt law enforcement officers and state employees” to gather information about people, investigations, and prosecutions and to smuggle contraband to incarcerated inmates, including into the Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City.
The indictment charges each of the 16 defendants with committing at least one violent act in aid of the gang “Unforgiven,” including kidnappings, conspiracies to commit assault, threats of violence and assaults with deadly weapons.
Jacksonville resident William Walker (a.k.a. “The Duke”), 38, was charged with conspiracy. Ryann Howard (a.k.a. “Auto”), 39 of Orange Park, was charged with assault and conspiracy. Levi Sharp (a.k.a. “Sketch”), of Satsuma, was accused of one count of assault and one of kidnapping. Ryan McLaughlin (a.k.a. “Pretty Boy”), 35, who gave the judge a Pomona Park address, was charged with conspiracy.
The alleged crimes occurred in 2019 and beyond. All four of the local defendants were released from prison between 2017 and 2018.
The Northeast Florida defendants appeared in federal court in Jacksonville on Thursday afternoon and all were ordered held pending detention hearings next Tuesday.
According to the indictment, Unforgiven required applicants to study “Aryan Philosophy” and commit acts of violence as a prerequisite to membership, then expected them to be “battle-ready” at all times.
The indictment, which called Unforgiven “the Enterprise,” said the group promoted a climate of fear, required demonstrations of loyalty and enforced compliance. Prosecutors wrote that members “would and did kidnap, assault, batter and stab members and associates of the Enterprise who did not abide by Enterprise rules.”
Some of the victims of the assaults alleged in the indictment were members of rival groups, the Proud Boys, Aryan Brotherhood and Race Baiters.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said attacking another white supremacist group is what really sticks out in this case.
“What they’re saying is, even though they almost have the same purpose in terms of what they do or stand for, sometimes there’s an initiation process to see if you can be loyal to that one particular group and if you are willing to cross the line and defy another hate group,” Jefferson said.
Unforgiven does not appear on the Southern Poverty Law list of 14 hate groups in Florida, but it is recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as a white supremacist gang within Florida’s prison system. Their symbols look similar to symbols of other hate groups.
Another Florida defendant, David Howell, from Loxahatchee, faces three counts, including assaulting protestors at a Peace Walk for Black Lives with a dangerous weapon, on June 5, 2020.
A Florida man that prosecutors said is a member of Unforgiven is among a handful of the more than 500 people charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to have pleaded guilty. Michael Curzio, who once served time for attempted murder, was sentenced to six months for a misdemeanor charge related to the Capitol attack and was due to be released from jail on Wednesday.