Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Tomball Man Pleads Guilty To Involvement In Murder
BEAUMONT, Texas –A 48-year-old Tomball, Texas, man has pleaded guilty to charges related to a 2008 Liberty County homicide, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas.
Steven Cooke pleaded guilty to committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, (VCAR) today before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. Specifically, Cooke admitted that he murdered Scott Freeman, 37.
According to information presented in court, Cooke was a general of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), a race-based state-wide organization which operates inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout the state of Texas and the United States. The command structure has a militaristic ranking structure. The ABT enforces its rules and promotes 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.
In 2002, a division within the ABT resulted in two separate rival ABT factions. Freeman and Cooke each belonged to separate rival factions. At the time of his murder, Freeman was actively recruiting members of the opposing faction to join forces with his rival faction. Cooke's particular faction had been given a "greenlight" to assault or kill members of the rival faction.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 2008, Cooke, using the ruse that his own vehicle was overcrowded, persuaded Freeman to pull over as both men were traveling in separate vehicles from Cooke's residence in Rye, Texas to Cleveland, Texas. One of the passengers in Cooke's vehicle disembarked and sat on the passenger side of Freeman's truck. Freeman came around the side of his truck to greet Cooke and a co-defendant. At this point, Cooke shot Freeman six times. After Cooke and his co-defendant moved Freeman's body behind Freeman's vehicle, they fled the scene.
U.S. Attorney Bales expressed his appreciation for the hard work performed by so many officers and agents and added, "In both word and deed, the ABT has consistently demonstrated a flagrant disrespect for the law and a pitiless disregard for the standards and norms of conduct that bind our society together. Scott Freeman’s murder was a completely senseless act of violence that accomplished nothing but to further cement the ABT’s reputation as a loathsome gang dedicated to enforcing a foolish and evil code of conduct.”
“We have now convicted two of the five ABT generals from the Poncho faction. A third general has died from natural causes. This most recent accomplishment signals not only the end of Steven Cooke’s criminal career but underscores our present intention to completely dismantle the ABT’s ability to do harm,” said U.S. Attorney Bales.
Cooke faces Life in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case is being investigated by the ATF, the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Lufkin, Texas, in full cooperation with the Liberty County District Attorney's Office.