My colleague R. Scott Moxley told you four years ago how a federal agent had bragged about government authorities successfully infiltrating and disrupting Orange County's most notorious white supremacist gang, the "haters and cowards," as the fed called them, of Public Enemy Number One Death Squad (PEN1).
Some of the 34 hoodlums swept up in Operation Stormfront would go on to receive life sentences, but one just won his freedom.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue did inform Andrew Michael Casper last week that he would have to report to a probation officer within 72 hours of his release.
Casper, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and street terrorism charges, spent more than four years in jail before Donahue gave him credit for nine years thanks to good behavior.
From appearances, the judge was looking at a totally different man. The mugshot that opened this post shows you the heavily tatted Casper (nicknamed "Baby Bear" and "Lil' Brody") of 2010. When he went before Donahue, the shaved head was now covered by long hair, which was tied up into a ponytail.
Donahue, according to a courtroom report by City News Service, wished Casper luck and urged him to "stay out of trouble."
"Absolutely," Casper replied.
It was a quiet ending to one part of a roaring case. During a Santa Ana press conference back in December 2010, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas hailed what he called "the largest sweep" of white-power gangsters ever.
"Some very, very, very serious bad guys have been taken off the streets for a long time, if not for life," remarked Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens at the media event.
Orange County and federal authorities had targeted PEN1, a white power gang born in Costa Mesa-Huntington Beach that was run from behind bars by Wayne Jason Marshall. The shot caller for the Aryan Brotherhood would communicate his orders for mayhem on the outside to his wife, Ruthie "Mama Bear" Marshall.
Casper was among five gang members found guilty of beating and extorting money from another hood, Jeremy Ball, after receiving orders from shot caller Marshall.
A placard put up at that 2010 news conference indicated Casper was arrested for two incidents that found him charged with: one count of extortion by force or threat; two counts of street terrorism; one count of conspiracy to commit murder; and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. For each case he also faced a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity and a prior strike for a 2007 robbery.
Of the 34 Operation Stormfront arrestees, at least three got life in prison.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.