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Sons of Silence Member Receives Life Sentence for Role in Terre Haute Meth Organization

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Motorcycles Topics:  Sons of Silence

Sons of Silence Member Receives Life Sentence for Role in Terre Haute Meth Organization

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana
April 8, 2013

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett Says Drug Organization is Now Completely Dismantled

INDIANAPOLIS—Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Phillip Mannebach, age 47, of Terre Haute, was sentenced to life in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker this morning. This follows his jury trial conviction in late 2012, where he was found guilty of participating in a local methamphetamine trafficking organization, as well as helping to orchestrate the abduction of an individual.

“Throughout the investigation and prosecution of this criminal organization, we have reiterated our stance that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has zero tolerance for those who use guns to terrorize Hoosier neighborhoods,” Hogsett said. “Through our Violent Crime Initiative, we’re continuing to target these groups and bring an end to their deadly trade of drugs, violence, and illegally possessed firearms.”

Today’s sentencing is the culmination of a multi-year investigation and prosecution of a drug trafficking organization that operated in Indianapolis and had extensive connections to a motorcycle club operating in Terre Haute. The methamphetamine trafficking organization operated from approximately May 2010 until the arrests of most of the members of the organization on August 6, 2011.

Mannebach, a member of the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club in Terre Haute, was convicted of operating a methamphetamine distribution ring in Terre Haute along with co-defendant Michael Pitts, age 51, also of Terre Haute. They would receive the drugs from James Taylor, a previously prosecuted member of the Sons of Silence motorcycle gang in Indianapolis.

In addition, co-defendants Travis Umphries and Dustin Coffey, “hang-arounds” with the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club in Terre Haute, assisted Mannebach with the abduction of Mannebach’s stepson in Terre Haute on November 1, 2010. The victim of the abduction had stolen approximately $5,000 in currency from Mannebach, who had obtained the money from methamphetamine trafficking activity in Terre Haute. After realizing that the victim had stolen the money, Mannebach directed Umphries and Coffey to accompany him to a third person’s residence to abduct the victim.

Mannebach entered the residence, assaulted the victim with a firearm, and ordered the victim out of the residence at gunpoint. Mannebach directed Umphries and Coffey to transport the victim to Mannebach’s motorcycle repair garage, located at 2001 ½ Maple Avenue in Terre Haute. Mannebach ziptied the victim to a chair in the bathroom of the garage until November 3, 2010, when the victim located a Leatherman’s tool in the bathroom, cut the zipties, and fled the garage.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley A. Blackington, who prosecuted the cases for the government, a total of 12 defendants have now been convicted and sentenced as a result of what was known as Operation Saw Mill. They include:

Gary Baker—30 years
Michael Pitts—16 years
Travis Umphries—12 years, one month
Stephen Davis—10 years
Jackie Craft—six years, six months
James Taylor—four years
Brian Ellington—four years
Aaron Byers—two years
Joseph Woolsey—one year, five months
James Baker—14 days
Dustin Coffey—federally supervised probation

This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force in Indianapolis as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Violent Crime Initiative (VCI).

Announced in March of 2011, the VCI represents a district-wide strategy to work with local law enforcement and county prosecutors to combat drug traffickers and criminals that use and carry firearms in their illegal activities. In the first two years of the initiative, the VCI produced a dramatic increase in the number of violent gun-related charges brought federally—from just 14 felony possession charges in 2010 to more than 200 since the initiative began.

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