Dead Man Inc.
The History Channel's "Gangland" series focused Thursday night on Maryland's Dead Man Inc., a white prison gang, and the timing couldn't have been any better.
Just yesterday, the City Paper reported on its Web site that federal prosecutors said the Black Guerrilla Family offered DMI $10,000 to do hits on corrections officers and anyone else who helped with or conducted the investigation that led to 24 recent indictments that outlined how the BGF was able to carry out gang business while enjoying a decadent lifestyle behind bars.
"There’s been a hit placed out on several correctional officers named in this kite, and all others involved in this investigation, and that would include prosecutors," a federal prosecutor told U.S. District Court magistrate judge Beth Gesner, according to the City Paper. A “kite" is a letter or note sent between inmates.
Last night's special, which teetered dangerously close to glorification of the violent gang and its activities, featured interviews with members who gave their names and also provided information about the gang's origins and recent upheaval and a power struggle. I checked news clippings dating back several years and could find no real account of how the gang got started, so that special offered insight in addition to letting proud members boast and show off tattoos.
According to the members, the gang was started by a man named Perry Roark, 40, who court records show is from Bel Air and is currently being held at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, known as Supermax. Roark, who is white, wanted to join the established Black Guerrilla Family, and though he was respected and knew BGF members, he was not allowed to join because of his race. So he started Dead Man Inc. in the late 1990s to serve as a white off-shoot of the BGF. The main beliefs were anti-government and anti-religion; homosexuals, rapists and snitches need not apply, members said.
The show also listed two other co-founders - James Sweeney and Brian Jordan - who were sent to facilities in Texas and Louisiana, respectively, to break up the gangs activities. But according to the narrator, that only served to spread DMI's influence. The show claimed that DMI has 10,000 members nationwide.
Among those interviewed on camera from behind prison walls were Ricky Tolson, 30, who said he is an "elder" in the gang, and a man named Kristopher "Little Kris" Horner. According to the state's inmate locator, Horner is being held at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown, while Tolson has apparently been released since his interview.
Tolson said DMI was in a recent "downward spiral because of infiltration by a lot of people who shouldn't be involved." Tolson, Horner and another member named William Kern said the gang was being overrun by new members who didn't share the group's core values and wouldn't back up others in fights. Members were committing acts of violence against fellow members, and no one knew who to trust. Tolson displayed scars from a stabbing carried out by a fellow member.
Roark, the narrator said, handed down an edict that members not abiding by the rules, or those who illegitimately claimed membership, had until April 13, 2009 to get out or face consequences.
The numbers are significant - the date, 4/13/09, represents the letters DMI in the alphabet. So if the information is accurate, the gang just last week had a major membership purge.
Law enforcement officers interviewed for the special, whose faces were darkened and voices disguised, said the gang is headed for a turning point. Roark wants to keep the status quo and keep the gang affiliated with the BGF. But Sweeney, who is being held in Texas, wants the gang to move more toward white extremism.
A gang investigator from Anne Arundel County said law enforcement is cautiously monitoring Roark's status, as he is eligible to be released from prison in 2010. Though the gang has been predominately prison-based, the officer speculated that Roark's release could lead to increased presence on the street.
"When the main member gets out and can organize them, that's when people should be worried," the officer said.