Two Ku Klux Klan members who formerly served as Florida prison guards were convicted this week for conspiring to murder a black inmate after his release. A third Klansman and former prison guard involved in the conspiracy was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year.
In 2014, Florida Department of Corrections officers Jordan Driver, David Moran, and Charles Newcomb devised a plot to murder a black inmate who had reportedly bitten Driver during a physical altercation with the prison guard. As members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the prison guards began conspiring to commit the murder during a Klan meeting in late 2014.
By early 2015, an FBI informant offered to contact a professional killer to murder the former inmate for Driver, Moran, and Newcomb. With their conversations secretly recorded, the disgruntled prison guards discussed abducting their victim, injecting him with a lethal dose of insulin to make his death appear accidental, and simply murdering him with a gun if their other plans failed.
After placing the potential victim into protective custody, law enforcement officials staged a fake homicide photograph appearing to depict the former inmate’s murdered corpse. Fooled into believing their target had successfully been murdered, the prison guards smiled with gratitude as Driver shook the FBI informant’s hand after viewing the photo on his phone.
“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,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We will 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.”
Arrested in 2015, Driver eventually pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to four years in prison. On Tuesday, a Columbia County jury found Moran and Newcomb guilty of one count each for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled, but Moran and Newcomb currently face up to 30 years in prison.
Fired from the Florida Department of Corrections in 2013, Newcomb reportedly held the position of “Exalted Cyclops” within the local KKK chapter. At the time of their arrests, Driver and Moran were guards working at the Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler, Florida.