The founder of a once-thriving Klan group has recently battled a major lawsuit, money woes and, now, federal drug charges.
Ron Edwards, the 50-year-old former leader of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), appeared in U.S. District Court in Owensboro, Ky., today on charges of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances, including methamphetamine, according to court documents. He was also charged with possession of a firearm to further a drug trafficking crime. Edwards’ girlfriend, Christina “Chrissy” Ann Gillette, was charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine.
The drug charges will likely further damage Edwards’ reputation in the white supremacist movement, where some supporters have accused him of keeping donations meant for his Klan group.
Edwards, of Dawson Springs, Ky., led a particularly dangerous Klan group that welcomes violent skinheads and declares on its website that it “hates Muds, spics, kikes and niggers.” In an effort to cripple the organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued Edwards in 2007, after members of his Klan group were convicted of attacking a 16-year-old U.S. citizen of Panamanian descent because they thought he was an “illegal spic.”
Edwards showed up to a deposition with the words “Fuck S.P.L.C.” tattooed on his head. In November 2008, a jury awarded a $2.5 million judgment to the victim; the verdict is currently under appeal. Last year, the group had five groups in four states, down from 23 chapters in 17 states in 2006. Though smaller, the IKA remains active and continues to hold Nordic Fest, its annual hate rock gathering held on Memorial Day weekend at its compound and headquarters in Dawson Springs.
An FBI affidavit indicates that Edwards’ was allegedly dealing drugs shortly after his civil trial in Brandenburg, Ky. The affidavit gives the following account: On Jan. 6, 2009, Edwards pocketed $800 after selling 120 prescription Lortab pain pills to an undercover officer during a meeting in Bardston, Ky. (The pills contained hydrocodone, a controlled substance.) During the drug sale, Edwards kept a semi-automatic pistol concealed under his leg and then behind his back. On Aug. 13, 2009, Gillette, Edwards’ girlfriend, sold methamphetamine for $300 to a “cooperating witness” who met with her in Central City, Ky. On Sept. 2, 2009, in Dawson Springs, Edwards did the same, earning $500. And on Jan. 16, 2010, Edwards and the cooperating witness met again in Dawson Springs, where Edwards gave the witness 70 Lortab pills in exchange for $560.
Both Edwards and Gillette were released today on $25,000 bond issues. The conditions of release require them to remain under home detention and to avoid contact with each other. They are scheduled to appear in court again on June 24.