SANTA ANA, Calif.—A former Aryan Brotherhood prison gang member said an alleged gang kingpin ordered him to hide two bullets until they could be used to kill a Black inmate who had assaulted a mob leader.
Kevin Roach, his head shaved and arms covered with tattoos, testified Friday for a second day in one of the largest capital cases in U.S. history, a sweeping prosecution aimed at the Aryan Brotherhood's leadership.
Roach said another inmate slipped him one of the bullets by pushing it under the door of a prison law library, using a thin pole made of tightly twisted papers. The inmate, also a brotherhood member, told him that alleged gang leader Barry "The Baron" Mills would soon contact him and tell him about a planned hit on Walter Johnson, an inmate who had punched mob leader John Gotti.
Roach said that Gotti had in the past paid the Aryan Brotherhood to protect him in prison. Roach said Mills ordered gang members to stop protecting Gotti in 1994 because the mob leader hadn't followed through on a promise to help Mills find an attorney to appeal a decades-old murder conviction.
But in 1997, Gotti allegedly offered to pay to have Johnson killed and Mills agreed to take the offer. Roach didn't specify how much Gotti offered to pay, but in previous testimony another former gang member said Gotti had offered $500,000.
At the time, Gotti was in prison in Marion, Ill., while Mills and Roach were in a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo.
Mills "told us that he wanted us to accept the contract and he wanted me to send word to all the brothers because John Gotti was willing to pay a good sum," Roach testified. "He wanted to show that the Aryan Brotherhood could get anyone, anywhere and ... that shooting someone in a maximum security prison would make an impact on the prison population."
Roach said the gang never was able to carry out the hit on Johnson. Gotti died in prison in 2002.
Roach, a convicted murderer serving two life sentences, also testified about a violent campaign against the DC Blacks, a Black prison gang, that he said began after the DC Blacks placed a hit on two Aryan Brotherhood members.
The alleged race war — and the deaths of two Black inmates that resulted from it — are at the center of the government's case against two of the defendants currently on trial. The government claims that Mills and another gang leader, T.D. "The Hulk" Bingham, ordered the attack on the Black inmates and later mobilizedbrotherhood members for an all-out gang war.
Roach's testimony has also tied the defendants to many of the 32 murders and attempted murders detailed in an indictment targeting the violent gang founded in 1964 at California's San Quentin federal prison.
Roach, who is in the witness protection program, left the gang and became a government witness in 1998.
Prosecutors hope to dismantle the Aryan Brotherhood — nicknamed the "Brand" — in a series of racketeering trials. Of 40 men initially charged, as many as 16 could face the death penalty for crimes going back 30 years.
— The Associated Press