SANTA ANA, Calif. – Two leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood gang were sentenced Tuesday to life without parole and a third was given multiple life sentences for what prosecutors called decades of terrorizing some of the nation's most dangerous prisons.
The three were among the first defendants to stand trial as federal prosecutors used a six-year investigation to try to dismantle the Aryan Brotherhood and its brutal prison drug-dealing operations.
Mills, 58, and Bingham, 59, had been eligible for the death penalty but a jury deadlocked earlier this year during the trial's penalty phase.
In sentencing the Mills and Bingham to life in prison without the possibility of parole, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter said the time was appropriate for crimes "spanning well over 30 years of murder and organizational murder." Mills and Bingham had landed in prison the first time as young men convicted of murder.
The two showed no reaction when the verdicts were announced, but before federal marshals escorted Mills and Bingham out, both hugged their attorneys.
Among other crimes, Mills and Bingham were convicted for inciting a race riot at a prison in Lewisburg, Pa., in 1997 that killed two black inmates, both alleged members of the rival DC Blacks prison gang. Hevle and the fourth defendant, Christopher Overton Gibson, were convicted of conspiring to murder the black inmates.
Mills, Bingham and Hevle also were convicted of a count of murder for the killing of a prisoner at the Lompoc, Calif., penitentiary in 1989.
The judge sentenced Hevle, 55, on Tuesday to three consecutive life sentences.
Gibson, 47, is recuperating from back surgery and has not been sentenced. He could get 20 years to life in prison for racketeering and conspiracy.
Late last week, prosecutors dropped a bid to prevent the men from communicating with anyone but their attorneys. Instead, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Wolfe said in court papers that the Bureau of Prisons would simply impose that restriction without a court hearing or judge's order.
Federal prosecutors had originally asked Carter to prohibit visits, letters and phone calls to the convicts from anyone but their attorneys and keep writing tools, paper and previously viewed reading material out of their cells.
Similar bans have been imposed only 11 times in the history of the federal prison system. Inmates Zacarias Moussaoui, the suspected "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack, and convicted Unabomber Ted Kaczynski are among those with restrictions on their prison contacts.