Two of the 12 alleged white supremacists charged in a massive federal indictment pleaded guilty this week to participating in or threatening acts of violence to advance the power of their organization.
Two others are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court this month for change-of-plea hearings.
The men named in the December 2003 indictment are all purported members of the Soldiers of the Aryan Culture or associates of the group, which was formed in the late 1990s inside the Utah State Prison.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah and the FBI touted the charges as a way to dismantle the organization through a federal law originally intended to dismantle organized-crime organizations. Three alleged SAC leaders are charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, while the others face lesser charges of reportedly carrying out various crimes - conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, extortion and conspiracy to distribute narcotics - to further the group's power.
Michael Rousey pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of violence in aid of racketeering and was immediately sentenced to three years in prison. According to court documents, Rousey, charged initially under the name John Arthur McGee, acknowledged that he threatened to commit an unspecified crime of violence in January 2000 "for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing my position in Soldiers of the Aryan Culture."
On Wednesday, a second defendant, Andrew Beck, also pleaded guilty to a single charge of violence in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon. Beck is scheduled to be sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart.
At the time they were charged, all but four of the men were already in state and federal custody for other crimes. Hearings in the case has been marked by extraordinarily tight security, especially following a brief courtroom brawl between the defendants and federal agents in December.
The remaining defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the various charges against them and are scheduled for several trials beginning in September.