One of the senior leaders of the violent Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) – a man who ordered murders and other acts of violence – seems certain to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Charles Lee “Jive” Roberts, a 68-year-old ABT “general,” was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Houston to 30 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty in May to “conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise,” becoming the first leader of the white supremacist group to strike a plea bargain and avoid trial. Authorities say Roberts admitted he had six people killed on behalf of the gang in 2011.
His sentencing came after U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors filed paperwork in mid-September indicating they would not be seeking the death penalty against any of the 35 defendants indicted in the massive ABT case.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Roberts, already in failing health, stood in shackles and told U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, “I am done. I am fixin' to be taken out of the game. I have pulled the wagon as far as I can.”
“I just want a decent place for my retirement,” Roberts said, asking the court to send him to a prison with a medical facility, the newspaper reported. “You give me 20 years, 30 years, life, I don’t care,” Roberts told the judge. “If you need to make an example of somebody, here I am."
The judge, acknowledging that even a minimum term would “basically be a death sentence” for Roberts, said he had no choice but to sentence him to 30 years because of his criminal history.
Authorities say the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has an estimated 2,500 members – members for life who face death for not following orders or betrayal. The gang’s roots go back to the early 1980s within the Texas prison system, where it was patterned after the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang formed in that state’s prison system during the 1960s.
An indictment returned last year says the ABT was concerned primarily with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy but later expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit beyond the prison walls.
At last check, eight of the 35 ABT members under indictment have entered guilty pleas, and prosecutors are preparing for trial for the others. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston was not available for comment on Tuesday because of the government shutdown.