Two former prison guards in Florida who were members of the KKK have been convicted of plotting to kill a Black inmate in an act of retaliation.
A Columbia County jury found David Elliot Moran, 49, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 45, guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after they were caught discussing their plans with an FBI informant, Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday, Aug. 15.
Both Moran and Newcomb are former employees of the Florida Department of Corrections.
“These Klansmen plotted to murder a Black inmate after he was released from prison, but swift action and clever investigative tactics on behalf of investigators foiled their plot and may have saved a life,” Bondi said in a statement. “We’ll continue to work daily to ensure the KKK or any other hate-filled organization is unable to inflict violence on the citizens of our great state.”
A third guard, 27-year-old Thomas Jordan Driver, was also involved in the murder plot. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in March and was was sentenced to four years behind bars, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Prosecutors said all three men were members of KKK-affiliate Traditionalist American Knights, which was infiltrated by an FBI informant in 2014.
The plan to murder the Black inmate was hatched at a Klan meeting near Jacksonville that year, where Newcomb, Driver and Moran told the informant they wanted to see the inmate “six feet under” after his release as payback for an “altercation” he had had with Driver, an affidavit stated. At one point during the scuffle, Driver was bitten by the inmate, who the guards believed to be infected with HIV and other diseases.
The three men spilled the details of their plan to the informant, which involved kidnapping the man and injecting him with insulin to make his death look accidental. They did not get very far with the plan, however, as their conversation with the informant was secretly recorded.
The informant quickly gained the men’s trust and discussed ways to carry out the murder-for-hire plot. Authorities said the informant staged a fake murder scene that suggested the inmate was dead, then sent photos of it to the three men. They gave their approval.
Upon their 2015 arrests, Moran and Newcomb pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Their recent convictions come just days after President Donald Trump backed the actions of white nationalist groups at a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va. Trump said both sides (rally participants and counter-protesters) were to blame for the unrest that unfolded.
A sentencing date for Moran and Newcomb has not been set, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Both men face up to 30 years in prison.