LAKE CITY — Two former Florida prison guards who were members of the Ku Klux Klan were sentenced Friday by the Honorable Wesley R. Douglas to serve 12 years for plotting to kill a black inmate after his release.
A Columbia County jury on Tuesday found David Elliot Moran, 49, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 45, guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution secured the sentencing of the professed members of Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for conspiracy to commit first degree murder.
“Florida is a safer state with these Klansmen behind bars,” said Bondi. “Hate groups have no place in a civilized society and when members of these organizations plot violence and murder—we will be there to ensure justice is served and our citizens are protected.”
The murder plot started after a third guard and Klan member, Thomas Jordan Driver, 27, was bitten during a fight with the inmate, who they believed was infected with HIV and hepatitis. Driver pleaded guilty to the same charge in March and was sentenced to four years in prison.
"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," Bondi said in a news release. "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."
All three men were arrested in 2015 after an investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The joint investigation revealed that Newcomb, Moran and Driver enlisted an FBI informant to kill the former inmate. Recorded conversations between the three former guards and the FBI informant revealed the murder plot.
At the time of the murder conspiracy, Driver and Moran were correctional officers at the Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler. Newcomb was a former correctional officer who had been fired in 2013 for failing to meet training requirements, according to department records.
“The members of the North Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (NFJTTF) combined their exceptional talent, skills and knowledge to work as a cohesive team and successfully disrupt this conspiracy,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “This case would not have been possible without the collaboration of our partnering law enforcement agencies, and we thank them for their dedication to this case.”
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecuted the cases. Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force that participated in the investigation include: the Federal Bureau of Investigation Jacksonville Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, , Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.