'Aryan Circle' prison gang had suspected gay inmate beaten as rite of passage, feds say

  • In US
  • 2023-01-26 17:50:00Z
  • By Miami Herald

Two members of a white supremacist prison gang will spend more time in prison over the brutal beating of an inmate suspected to be gay, federal prosecutors said.

William Glenn Chunn, a high-ranking "Aryan Circle" gang leader also known as "Big Head," ordered Matthew Rentfrow, also known as "Mongo," to attack the inmate as a rite of passage while they were both imprisoned at a penitentiary in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 2017, according to officials.

The Aryan Circle is one of the largest white supremacist prison gangs in the U.S. and has a significant presence in Texas, according to the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish civil rights organization.

A judge sentenced Chunn, 40, of Humble, Texas, and Rentfrow, 42, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, to 10 years in prison on Jan. 25 in connection with the attempted murder of the inmate in Mississippi, the Justice Department announced in a news release.

The inmate was chosen for the beating because Chunn "believed the victim was homosexual," prosecutors said.

Chunn and Rentfrow were both convicted of violent crime in aid of racketeering attempted murder at a trial in the Southern District of Mississippi in October, prosecutors said.

Scott Gilbert, Chunn's attorney, placed some of the blame on the prison guards and said in a statement provided to McClatchy News on Jan. 26 that the victim was put in a housing unit where "he would predictably be in danger of being attacked because of his sexual orientation."

"As much as this case was about a prison gang, it was equally as much about the ways in which prison employees can manipulate the unregulated self-governing that prison gangs are allowed to carry out within their housing units," Gilbert said.

McClatchy News contacted U.S. Penitentiary Yazoo City and attorneys representing Rentfrow for comment on Jan. 26 and didn't immediately receive a response.

The attack on the inmate

The Aryan Circle "enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through threats, intimidation, and acts of violence including, but not limited to, acts involving assault and murder," according to the Justice Department.

On Aug. 17, 2017, Rentfrow, a then-gang prospect, beat and stabbed his fellow inmate to become a member of the Aryan Circle on Chunn's orders, prosecutors said. At the time, they accused Chunn of ranking among the top five Aryan Circle leaders in the U.S.

As a result of Rentfrow's beating, the inmate had a collapsed lung, rib fractures, chest puncture wounds and cuts on his face and head, officials said. After surviving the attack, he needed a chest tube for his collapsed lung.

Gilbert said the prison guards stationed in the housing unit "failed to notice two separate attacks on the victim, and subsequently failed to observe the victim standing directly across from the guard office covered in blood, two separate times."

When the guards responded to Rentfrow's attack on the inmate, Gilbert said he wasn't brought to a medical office until nearly 20 minutes later.

"Despite a paramedic being present, no medical care was provided to the victim until he was turned over to the ambulance crew, because the medical staff do not work at night at FCI Yazoo," Gilbert said.

He added that the facts presented at trial "are in many ways much more troubling than the conduct that the Department of Justice charged and prosecuted."

Chunn had previously been sentenced to life in prison in a separate case prosecuted in the Eastern District of Texas, according to officials.

The Aryan Circle started in the Texas prison system in the 1980s, according to the Justice Department.

"Although its members still have only a crude understanding of white supremacist ideology, the theme of white supremacy is used to increase group solidarity," the department reports.

Yazoo City is about 45 miles northwest of Jackson.

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