An assistant U.S. attorney in Houston sent an email on Tuesday explaining that he’s backing out of a racketeering case against members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas due to concerns about his security, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The revelation was contained in a short email sent by assistant U.S. attorney Jay Hileman to criminal defense lawyer Richard O. Ely II, the News noted. Houston attorney Katherine Scardino told Talking Points Memo that the decision was made for “security reasons.”
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, known for employing extreme violence against enemies and even fellow members who refuse orders, has it out for a key witness in the case: a former Brotherhood leader named Terry Sillers, who has been in police custody since June 2011.
Investigators looking for clues in the recent slayings of two Kaufman County prosecutors are looking into a possible connection to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, which vowed in November to kill members of the law enforcement community that were involved in obtaining a massive set of federal indictments against 34 individuals, brought about in part by Sillers.
Hileman’s withdrawal also comes just a day after Kaufman County named prosecutor Brandi Fernandez the new district attorney to replace her murdered predecessor, virtually guaranteeing that tensions will remain high in Kaufman County for the foreseeable future.
Members charged in the indictments stand accused of three murders, numerous assaults and attempted murders, drug charges and even kidnappings. Details from the indictments are chilling, The Daily Beast’s Christine Pelisek noted. In one allegation, gang members are said to have killed an initiate to send a message to other new recruits, returning with a severed finger as a trophy. They’re also accused of numerous acts of brutal violence, including using blowtorches to fry gang tattoos off a member who refused an order.
However, it’s still unclear if there is a Kaufman County connection, despite the county’s involvement in a task force that issued indictments against the gang. Investigators also spoke to another person of interest in the case this week, a former Kaufman County judge who was arrested for theft and disbarred. “I’ve cooperated with law enforcement,” former judge Eric Williams told the NBC affiliate in Dallas. “I certainly wish them the best in bringing justice to this incredibly egregious act.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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