A federal grand jury has leveled new murder charges in its 2019 racketeering indictment of Aryan Brotherhood prison gang members, potentially making five defendants eligible for the death penalty, according to court documents filed Friday.
A superseding indictment returned Thursday in Sacramento adds four counts of murder in aid of racketeering against defendants Ronald Yandell, 58; William Sylvester, 53; Brant Daniel, 46; Pat Brady, 50; and Jason Corbett, 49, U.S. Attorney Phil Talbert’s office announced.
The latest charges include murder counts that could result in prosecutors seeking the death penalty against the five defendants, although court filings say prosecutors have not yet decided whether to pursue that penalty.
“This superseding indictment strikes at the heart of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang with five defendants now facing murder charges that carry with them the possibility of the death penalty,” Talbert said in a statement. “This white supremacist gang plagues our communities inside and outside prison and are responsible for some of the most brutal crimes committed within prison walls.
“We will continue to use every law enforcement tool to protect the communities impacted by this gang’s violence and criminal activities.”
The new charges allege that the defendants were involved in the murders of four other inmates as part of Aryan Brotherhood activities inside California prisons.
Sylvester, known as “Billy from Norco” and an Aryan Brotherhood member since 2018, is charged with the Oct. 7, 2011, slaying of inmate Ronald Richardson at Folsom State Prison.
Yandell is charged with ordering the Aug. 12, 2015, slaying of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell at Folsom State Prison. Pinell, a member of a group of inmates who were involved in a deadly escape attempt at San Quentin State Prison in 1971, was stabbed to death in the general population yard.
Pinell was once called “the most dangerous man in the California prison system” by officials.
Daniel is charged with the Oct. 29, 2016, slaying of inmate Daniel Scott at Salinas Valley State Prison, and Corbett and Brady are charged in the July 20, 2018, slaying of Donald Pequeen at High Desert State Prison near Susanville.
The charges are the latest to stem from a sprawling federal and state investigation of Aryan Brotherhood activities inside California prisons that authorities say included murders, orders that inmates and individual outside of prisons be killed and drug trafficking.
Trial in the case is expected to begin next year, although the new charges could affect its schedule.