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Three Members of Aryan Brotherhood Charged In Racketeering and Conspiracy to Commit Murder

January 25, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Three Members of Aryan Brotherhood Charged In Racketeering and Conspiracy to Commit Murder Image courtesy of koin.com

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Three members of a Pendleton white supremacist gang were involved in racketeering and conspiracy to murder, Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus said Friday.

Primus and deputy prosecutor Jackie Jenkins brought multiple charges against Jeremiah Mauer, 30, Gregory Tinnell, 43, and Warren Gerald Browning, 35, during an arraignment Friday at the Umatilla County Courthouse, Pendleton. The defendants appeared one at a time via video from the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton.

Mauer is the founder of the United Aryan Empire, Jenkins said, while Tinnell and Browning are members. Pendleton police Chief Stuart Roberts has said the defendants told detectives they were gang members, and Browning admitted he was involved in multiple criminal conspiracies to commit violence against others. Pendleton police arrested the trio in the past two weeks as part of a sweep following a vehicle shooting Jan. 9 north of Pendleton. Police also linked the men to shootings in late 2014 in Pendleton.

They initially faced felony weapons charges, but Jenkins told Circuit Court Judge Lynn Hampton the state was dismissing those cases and filing new ones based on secret indictments a grand jury handed up Thursday night.

The state charged Mauer, Browning and Tinnell with one count of racketeering each going back to January 2012, and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder for a shooting into a Pendleton home Nov. 23, 2014. The state also charged them with one count each of second-degree assault and riot and four counts each of felon in possession of firearms, among other crimes, including in connection with a shooting this past Christmas Eve in Pendleton. Browning faces 12 counts in all, Mauer 17 and Tinnell 21.

Hampton asked Jenkins what “exposure to imprisonment” Browning faces. After some math, Jenkins said Browning could serve 346 months, or almost 29 years.

Local defense attorneys entered not guilty pleas for each defendant, and each has a preliminary hearing sometime in the next two weeks. Most of the defendants kept quiet except for answering yes or no questions. But during a moment when the court was deciding on hearing dates, Mauer flipped through the pages of his indictment. He closed the document and said, “Well, there goes my life.”

Primus also charged an associate of the gang members. Sarah Frankford, 30, of Pendleton, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to assault another woman. Pendleton police uncovered her crimes while investigating the gang, Primus said after the hearings, and more crimes and defendants could be in the pipeline.

This is Primus’ first racketeering case in his tenure as district attorney, and it may be the first racketeering case against a gang in the county’s history. Racketeering is a criminal activity that benefits an organization and can include extortion, bribery and money laundering.

Primus explained an organization does not have to run a money-making scheme to fall under the law. Rather, he said, an organization can claim to be one thing while operating as another.

Roberts stated gang members and documents at Mauer’s apartment professed the United Aryan Empire wanted to target methamphetamine dealers, but the gang actually wreaked general violence and mayhem. Primus said the gang may have started as one thing, but they became a danger to the public through plots to assault, kill and commit violent crimes.

Primus said the grand jury heard evidence and listened to 11 witnesses for almost six hours Thursday before turning in the true bills. He credited Jenkins with the heavy lifting needed to bring the racketeering charges and championing use of the law.

The district attorney also said this case would test what he and his staff could do with that law and may lay the groundwork for future cases.

From The East Oregonian

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