TALLAHASSEE, FL Two current and one former prison employee who all belonged to the Ku Klux Klan planned to kill a black inmate as he was released in retaliation for a fight, state officials said Thursday.
The three men — Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and 42-year-old Charles Thomas Newcomb — each were arrested Thursday on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, according to a statement from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
Investigators said that late last year Driver handed a picture of the inmate, who was at that time out on supervised released, to an FBI informant who had infiltrated the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Driver told the informant he had a fight with the inmate and both he and Moran wanted the former inmate “six feet under.”
Over the next few months, the FBI said their informant met with all three men, discussing plans to kill the man. One alleged plan involved shooting him during a ride to Palatka; another plan was to inject him with insulin and make it look like he died in a fishing accident.
“My statewide prosecutor, acting in conjunction again with the FBI, staged a homicide scene where they took photos of the victim who was out of prison, now, of course, making it appear that he had been violently murdered,” Bondi said. “Those photos were then shown to the corrections officers, who are alleged members of the KKK, and were very proud of this killing.”
Driver and Moran are current correctional officers of the Department of Corrections at the Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler. Newcomb was a corrections officer trainee who was dismissed in January 2013 for failure to meet minimum requirements.
“We are moving swiftly to terminate the employees arrested today and working closely with Office of the Attorney General to assist in their prosecution,” DOC Secretary Julie Jones said. “Our department has zero tolerance for racism or prejudice of any kind. The actions of these individuals are unacceptable and do not, in any way, represent the thousands of good, hardworking and honorable correctional officers employed at the Department of Corrections.”
Driver and Moran were arrested in Union County and Newcomb in Alachua County. The case will be prosecuted in Columbia County.
The wide-ranging investigation included the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
The FBI’s office in Jacksonville said it would not comment on an open investigation.
The charges for the three men mark the latest black eye for the Florida Corrections Department.
Last fall, DOC officials fired nearly 50 prison employees, including several over allegations that they punched and beat inmates.
The deaths of inmates Randall Jordan-Aparo and Darren Rainey also drew attention. Rainey, a mentally ill prisoner, was punished in 2012 with a shower so hot that his skin separated from his body. Jordan-Aparo was reportedly gassed while in a confinement cell.
Witnesses say guards at Dade Correctional Institution left Rainey alone for two hours in a locked, scalding hot shower as punishment for defecating in his cell and refusing to clean it up. The warden at Dade Correctional was fired.
From News 4 Jacksonville