Hogsett Announces Indictment of Four Terre Haute Defendants in “Sons of Silence” Investigation
Topics: Sons of Silence
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana
October 25, 2011
Charges are More Results in Ongoing U.S. Attorney’s Violent Crime Initiative
TERRE HAUTE—Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney, announced this afternoon the indictment of four additional individuals in United States District Court in Terre Haute for their alleged roles in the criminal operations of the Sons of Silence motorcycle gang.
“Working together with our federal and local law enforcement partners, we have made it clear that there will be zero tolerance for those who peddle drugs and violence in our communities,” Hogsett said. “We are taking on criminal operations in Indiana with the full force of federal law, and we are dismantling them from top to bottom.”
The indicted individuals include:
Phillip Mannebach, age 46, of Terre Haute
Michael Pitts, age 50, of Terre Haute
Dustin Coffey, age 24, of Terre Haute
Travis Umphries, age 34, of Terre Haute
The indictment alleges that beginning in the summer of 2010, Mannebach and Pitts were distributors of methamphetamine for James Taylor, a previously indicted member of the Indianapolis chapter of the Sons of Silence motorcycle club. Pitts, a convicted felon, also faces charges for illegally possessing a firearm.
The indictment also charges Mannebach, Coffey, and Umphries with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence. The three are alleged to have conspired to abduct an individual for three days last November in an attempt to extort money to pay off debts associated with methamphetamine trafficking.
This follows an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force in Indianapolis into the activities of the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club. The Terre Haute Police Department and the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office assisted the FBI with the investigation.
In addition, in late August, eight other individuals associated with the Sons of Silence gang were indicted for a variety of charges, including methamphetamine trafficking, money laundering, and firearms offenses.
“This investigation, along with law enforcement successes such as last week’s recordbreaking drug bust in Indianapolis, send a loud message across Indiana that I hope is heard far beyond our borders,” Hogsett noted. “If you bring your criminal organization into the Hoosier State, we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will punish you.”
Assistant United States Attorney Brad Blackington, who will prosecute this case for the government, observed that the Sons of Silence investigation involves the first large-scale federal prosecution of individuals associated with a motorcycle gang since 2002, when members of the Diablos Motorcycle Club in Terre Haute were successfully prosecuted for methamphetamine trafficking offenses. If convicted, Mannebach and Pitts each face sentences of 10 years to life imprisonment. Coffey and Umphries face sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison if they are found guilty.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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