On April 20, 2009, a U.S. District Judge in California sentenced Aryan Brotherhood (AB) racist prison gang member David "Big Dave" Sahakian to 20 years in federal prison for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The crimes were committed while Sahakian was incarcerated at the maximum security U.S. penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.
As leader of the Marion Aryan Brotherhood, Sahakian ordered fellow AB member Carl Knorr to carry out a hit on another inmate in 1999.
In July 2008, Knorr admitted to his role in the hit ordered by Sahakian and pleaded guilty in federal court to voluntary manslaughter, possession of a dangerous weapon in a federal facility, and possession of contraband alcohol in prison. In accordance with the plea arrangement, Knorr was sentenced to 11 Ĺ years in federal prison.
In May 1999, Knorr grabbed a 37-year-old African-American inmate and held him while another Aryan Brotherhood inmate, Richard McIntosh, allegedly stabbed the man nine times with an improvised blade made from a light fixture. The victim died after his heart was punctured by the blade.
The victim had a previous violent interaction with a white inmate, who later confessed to going to Sahakian seeking revenge. That is when Sahakian ordered Knorr and McIntosh to attack the victim.
A 2003 capital murder trial against the three men in Benton, Illinois, ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. The jury did convict Sahakian of possessing a knife in prison, adding a five-year sentence to the 15-year sentence he was completing for a prior conviction of felony possession of a firearm.
A new trial against all three men was set to begin in August 2008 in federal court in Riverside. After the government decided not to seek the death penalty against the defendants, the indictment against McIntosh was dismissed, as he is already serving two life sentences from prior convictions, and Knorr entered a guilty plea just days before trial.
This case was part of a larger sweep of AB members. In August 2002, 40 AB members and associates were indicted for racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, and murder. The indictment alleged that members of the Aryan Brotherhood "conspired to murder black inmates in the institutions of the Federal Bureau of Prisons."