WASHINGTON – A high ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) was sentenced today for his role in an aggravated assault that took place in Tomball, Texas, in September 2008, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
Steven Walter Cooke, 48, aka “Stainless,” pleaded guilty on March 16, 2012, to racketeering aggravated assault for his role in the beating of an ABT prospect member. Cooke was sentenced today to 87 months in federal prison by senior U.S. District Court Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. The sentence will run concurrent with a life sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone on May 3, 2012, in the Eastern District of Texas in connection with Cooke’s role in a 2008 Liberty County, Texas, homicide.
According to court documents, the defendant was a leader of the ABT, a powerful race-based, state-wide organization that operated inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout the United States. The ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to court documents, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.
According to court documents, the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault, robbery and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”
According to court documents, Cooke, along with 11 fellow ABT gang members, participated in the beating of a prospective ABT member at Cooke’s home in Tomball on Sept. 22, 2008. The ABT prospect, who sustained serious bodily injury, including an orbital blowout fracture, was beaten by ABT gang members because he violated ABT rules of conduct.
Eleven of the 12 co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to violent crimes in aid of racketeering aggravated assault. The 12th ABT gang member, David Harlow, 43, aka “Bam Bam,” was found guilty at trial by Senior Judge Werlein on March 21, 2012. Harlow was sentenced on July 27, 2012, to 120 months in prison.
This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Texas Rangers; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Walker County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; the Montgomery County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department; the Houston Police Department-Gang Division; the Tomball Police Department; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Inspector General; and the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of the Southern District of Texas.