Inmate Sentenced To Life In Drug Racketeering Gang Case

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A leader of a white supremacist prison gang in Idaho has been sentenced to life in prison on racketeering and other charges, authorities said.

Idaho's Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez Jr. said Thursday that Harlan Hale, 55, will serve the federal prison time after he completes other prison sentences from separate cases in Idaho and Wyoming.

Prosecutors said Hale and nine other members of the Aryan Knights participated in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and used violence when drug debts went unpaid.

“The life sentence imposed on this defendant recognizes the devastating effects that prison gangs, and especially white supremacist prison gangs, have on the rehabilitative mission of correctional institutions and individual inmates who sincerely hope to use their period of incarceration to successfully reenter society,” Gonzalez said in a prepared statement.

Hale has an extensive criminal record including convictions for attempted murder, robbery and escape. He's already serving a sentence of 25 years to life in Idaho state prison. He also has a pending 32-year sentence out of Wyoming in connection with a car hijacking conviction.

Some of the previous charges in Idaho and Wyoming are connected to what prosecutors called a “crime spree” in 2005, according to court records. Police said they found Hale, who was barred from owning weapons because of a previous conviction, with a gun and he fled in a vehicle — attempting to run over an officer — and led law enforcement on a chase.

He was captured and taken to a jail in Boise before escaping. Police said he carjacked a woman and fled to Wyoming, later stealing a truck at gunpoint. That chase continued until he crashed and was arrested.

“The defendant continued his violent ways when he entered" Idaho Department of Correction, Gonzalez wrote in federal court documents requesting a life sentence in the racketeering case. “He joined the AK and continued the same lifestyle in prison. This culminated in the stabbing of another inmate.”

Hale pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to participate in racketeering and attempted murder and assault. Online court records don't reveal if he made any statements at his sentencing. Hale's attorney, Randall Barnum, couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Three other prisoners have also pleaded guilty and were sentenced last year in connection with the racketeering case. Christopher Foss, 32, was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison after his state prison sentence is completed. Buck Pickens, 31, was ordered to serve five years in federal prison after his state sentence, and 36-year-old Michael McNabb was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison.

A jury trial for the remaining defendants is set for October.