Two state prison employees and another former employee have been arrested by the FBI for conspiring to kill a black man over a fight in a Columbia County prison, the Jacksonville office of the Florida Attorney General announced today.
Thomas Jordan Driver, 25; David Elliot Moran, 47, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder of a former inmate. Driver and Morgan are corrections officers in the at the Department of Corrections’ Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler and will be booked at the Union County Jail. Newcomb, a former employee, was taken to the Alachua County Jail.
Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones said that the officials arrested were “part of a white supremacist group that was targeting inmates,” and the employees will be terminated.
Jones, who briefed Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, after a hearing on her confirmation by the Senate Criminal Justice Appropriations, told him “we have done all the ‘intel’ work inside the prison. We have a handle on this.”
Jones told reporters she was not aware of the investigation until the FBI was prepared to make the arrests. “You guys know more than I do,” she said, and “the FBI briefed me on the arrest. I helped them make the arrest and I wasn’t told what the circumstances were.”
She said generally, the incident was “disquieting.”
“Our Department has zero tolerance for racism or prejudice of any kind,” spokesman McKinley Lewis said in a statement. “The actions of these individuals are unacceptable and do not, in any way, represent the thousands of good, hardworking and honorable correctional officers employed at the Department of Corrections.”
The suspects were identified in the news release as members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case in Columbia County. Other agencies involved in the investigation included: Homeland Security, the Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
DOC released the following information on the suspects:
Thomas Driver, hired 7/23/2010 as a correctional officer; received a written reprimand on 4/13/2012 for willful violation of rules; and a written reprimand on 6/15/2012 for absence without authorized leave.
David Moran, hired 1/5/96 as a correctional officer; promoted 4/30/2004 to a correctional officer sergeant; received written reprimands on 10/11/1999 and 2/9/2006 for conduct unbecoming a public employee; and a supervisory counseling memorandum on May 12, 2010, for abuse of sick leave.
Charles Thomas Newcomb, hired 10/12/2012 as a trainee status correctional officer, dismissed 1-6-2013 for failure to meet correctional officer’s minimum training requirements.