Family and friends of the Las Vegas man accused of being the second-in-command of a violent prison gang defended the 32-year-old on Monday, saying that he needed to join the gang to survive in prison.
Speaking outside a federal courtroom after Daniel Joseph Egan pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges, his aunt and friends painted a different picture of the alleged Aryan Warriors member than the one offered by federal prosecutors.
"I think that when Dan was in prison, he did whatever he had to do to survive," said Candy Brabant, Egan's 54-year-old aunt.
A childhood friend, Sean Craig, 34, said Egan was so safe to be around that he would trust Egan with his own children.
"He's not what they're making him out to be," Craig said.
What prosecutors are making Egan out to be is a leader of a gang involved in extortion, drug dealing, assaults and homicide.
A federal grand jury indicted Egan and 13 other men on racketeering charges in connection with the many crimes that authorities allege the gang has committed.
The indictment states that the gang has operated in Nevada's prisons for at least 17 years. Six of the men indicted were serving time in Ely State Prison or High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs when the indictment was unsealed on Thursday.
Egan was in the county jail when the indictment was unsealed. He had been in there since May 25 on a variety of charges including possession of a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance and auto burglary.
Egan grinned at about a half-dozen supporters who were in the federal courtroom for his hearing Monday. He nodded at them and silently mouthed words to them.
Federal prosecutors accuse Egan of conspiring to attack inmate Mark Fechtman with a razor-like blade on Oct. 16, 2004, and also allege Egan conspired to assault inmate Cody Dunn with a knife on Feb. 19, 2005.
Brabant, however, described Egan as a generous, "sweet and big-hearted" individual.
Brabant said many of his problems stem from spending most of his adult life in prison.
"If they can throw it (criminal charges) at him, they're going to. It just isn't fair," she said.
She said that Egan didn't tell her about the Aryan Warriors or any gang membership but often spoke of his "brothers" still inside the prison.
She said he served eight years for possessing and distributing drugs and spent that time at various prisons in the state, including High Desert.
Egan completed his prison term more than a year ago, she said.
"Since he's been out, we've been supporting him," she said.
During that time, however, authorities have arrested Egan several times. One year ago today, Egan punched his girlfriend, Danielle Partington, several times, according to a Las Vegas police report. When police were booking Egan into jail on the domestic violence charge, they discovered a bag of methamphetamine on him so they added a charge of drug possession, according to his arrest report.
Police arrested Egan about two months later at Sam's Town after a security guard saw him and Partington breaking into a Toyota Camry, another arrest report stated. Police also found a Glock 9 mm handgun and brass knuckles in Egan's car, the report stated.
Egan was arrested again on Sept. 19 for existing warrants and police again found brass knuckles on him, the report stated. In May, Boulder City police arrested Egan for possession of drugs and a dangerous weapon after they stopped him and found marijuana, methamphetamine and a baton in a vehicle he was in, according to a police report.