A grand jury has indicted 16 members of a Florida white supremacist group on kidnapping, assault and racketeering charges, federal authorities announced Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a 19-page indictment implicating members of the group, called Unforgiven — including four from the greater Tampa Bay area. One charge stems from an assault last summer at a Peace Walk for Black Lives that a Department of Justice spokesperson said took place at the Hernando County courthouse in Brooksville.
Federal prosecutors, who a spokeswoman said began investigating the group in 2016, described Unforgiven as a racketeering enterprise engaged in acts of “violence, kidnapping, robbery, obstruction of justice, and other offenses,” according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida.
Four of the men were in state custody and 11 in federal custody Thursday, spokeswoman Amy Filjones said. One man was still on the loose: 42-year-old Joshua Hall, also known as K9, of Wildwood.
Unforgiven propagates “Aryan philosophy,” according to the indictment, and holds and expands its power through “recruitment, indoctrination of white supremacist ideology, pursuit of business and political leadership, intimidation, and threats and acts of violence.”
Part of its mission is also to rebel against a perceived victimization of white inmates within the Florida Department of Corrections, which runs and manages state prisons.
The location of one of the incidents was Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City, the indictment says. There, Unforgiven members Brandon Welch, 34, of Milton, and Joshua Williamson, 36, of Live Oak, assaulted with a deadly weapon a person identified by the initials “J.T.” in January 2019. Welch, who also goes by “Scumbag,” and Williamson, also known as “Chain Gang,” face assault in aid of racketeering charges.
Members relied on “corrupt law enforcement officers and state employees” to gather information and smuggle contraband into correctional facilities, according to the indictment. Filjones declined to say whether federal prosecutors know who those officials are and if they plan to charge them.
Group leaders expected members to be “battle-ready at all times,” the indictment says, and created a “climate of fear” to keep members in line. They also required that members demonstrate their loyalty by paying dues, attending group meetings and getting tattoos bearing white supremacist symbols.
The gang sought political power through a subgroup called Route 21 “in an attempt to disguise the white supremacist roots of its political activity,” according to the indictment, although it doesn’t elaborate on what that political activity consisted of.
Another incident in the indictment occurred in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer as protests against racism and police brutality unfolded across the country, including at the Hernando County courthouse. There, Unforgiven member David Howell, 35, assaulted participants during a Peace Walk for Black Lives on June 5, 2020, the indictment says.
At the time, Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Howell, of Loxahatchee, on charges of improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon and resisting an officer without violence, court records show.
Howell had hidden a machete under his shirt, his arrest report says, then lifted up his shirt to show protesters the weapon. Deputies tried to arrest him, and he took off running with the machete in his hand. They eventually caught Howell after a deputy used a Taser on him. The disposition of that case was unclear in court records Thursday.
The indictment also mentions an incident on Feb. 1, 2019, in which two Unforgiven members conspired to assault members of the United Aryan Brotherhood, which the indictment characterized as a “rival gang.” Those members — 27-year-old Joshua Fisher, also known as Hammer, of Brooksville, and 35-year-old Ryan McLaughlin, also known as Pretty Boy, of Jacksonville — face charges of conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering activity.
The remaining indicted members are:
Maverick Maher, also known as Saxon, 39, of Pensacola; Levi Sharp, aka Sketch, 38, of Satsuma; George Andrews, II, aka Shrek, 51, of Pensacola; James Mapoles, aka Matt Mapoles or Matt Criston, 40, of Panama City; Ryann Howard, aka Auto, 39, of Orange Park; Darrin Terranova, aka Nova, 51, of Beverly Hills; Steve Anderson, 28, of Bristol; Jarrett Arnold, aka Jit, 31, of Zephyrhills; Scott Marshall, aka Solo, 45, of Port Richey; and William Walker, aka The Duke, 38, of Jacksonville.
Efforts to reach family members of the Tampa Bay area men through a variety of phone numbers were unsuccessful Thursday. It was unclear Thursday if the men had obtained attorneys.
The men face a range of sentences if found guilty, including up to 20 years in prison.
Staff writers Josh Fiallo, Natalie Weber and Matt Cohen contributed to this report.