ABT member convicted for 2009 shooting

A member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) was convicted on Dec. 1, of racketeering and firearms charges related to his role in the 2009 shooting of a man in Jefferson County.

John Oliver Manning, aka “Fish,” 52, of Pasadena, was charged by a federal grand jury on March 17, 2011, with violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity. The activities include conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Co-defendant Joshua Mark Bodine, aka “Desperado,” 32, of Vidor, had previously pleaded guilty Oct. 11, to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering activity.  Bodine has been in custody since his arrest on Feb. 24, 2011, and Manning has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 9, 2009.

According to the indictment, the ABT is a race-based, state-wide organization that operates inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas and the United States. The ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. It 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 the indictment, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT expanded its focus to create a criminal enterprise that includes illegal activities for profit.

According to evidence presented at trial, 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.  Members, and oftentimes associates, are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”

The evidence at trial established that on Sept. 7, 2009, Manning shot and wounded ABT associate Matthew Fails in Nederland on the orders of Bodine.  Specifically, Manning approached Fails with a firearm and a pair of handcuffs in an attempt to collect a debt on Bodine’s behalf, and ultimately shot Fails.  Fails was declared brain-dead, but later regained consciousness after emergency surgery. A surgeon testified that the wound Fails received caused “agonizing pain” and that Fails “would not ever be the same.”

At sentencing, Manning faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. Sentencing dates have not been scheduled for Manning and Bodine.