LOS ANGELES – A San Diego woman Monday became the first person sentenced in the aftermath of a federal crackdown on the Aryan Brotherhood gang.
Brenda Jo Riley, 43, was given 21 months in prison.
She had pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to her role as a courier for the white supremacist gang. She allegedly relayed messages about Aryan Brotherhood matters in and out of prison.
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She also pleaded to a charge of intent to distribute methamphetamine. She hasn’t agreed to cooperate with the government.
While a relatively minor gang figure, she’s the first person to be sentenced in connection with the October 2002 racketeering case against about 40 Aryan Brotherhood members and associates.
Prosecutors say the group participated in 16 murders and 16 attempted murders, most of them intended to enforce the gang’s rules of conduct.
Riley was arrested when the indictment was issued and has remained in custody.
She is the wife of Elliott Scott Grizzle, a California member of the gang who is serving a life sentence and facing the death penalty, if convicted, in connection with the slaying of a fellow gang member.
Riley’s attorney, W. Michael Mayock, said during Monday’s hearing that prosecutors included information in sentencing papers that “painted a big bull’s-eye on her back.”
The information was sent to all of the defendants in the case, including top gang leaders.
Mayock didn’t say what was in the papers, but said it showed what the gang would perceive as “disrespect.”
A source familiar with the case said there is a reference in the papers that Riley was sharing a room with another man, a parolee, when arrested.
After the hearing, Thom Mrozek, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said his office “did not intend to put her life in danger or cause any problems.”
Mayock told reporters Riley hasn’t been threatened and doubted she would. Any harm to Riley “would just happen,” he said.
The Aryan Brotherhood was founded in 1964 at San Quentin State Prison. It was initially composed of inmates of Irish descent who wanted to consolidate the power of several different white prison cliques.
In the 1970s, the gang spread to federal prisons and other state prison systems.