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Aryan Warriors’ defense begins

Debbi Krum’s son has struggled with drugs since he was a teen, but she testified Friday that she never saw him use methamphetamine after he was released from prison and moved into her home.

The assistant to Bellagio President and Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin doesn’t believe her son, Kenny Krum, was a member of the Aryan Warriors prison gang. She doesn’t believe that he helped the gang manufacture and sell large quantities of meth.

Debbi Krum agreed to testify on behalf of her son in the government’s federal case against the Aryan Warriors because she believes he is innocent, she said. She noted that she hasn’t testified or tried to bail him out during past drug busts. She said when he is wrong, he should take responsibility.

“I hope he is released and has a chance to have a life,” she said. “He’s my son and I care about him.”

Defense attorneys began their case Friday, calling a handful of family members and employers of the defendants to the stand. The men are charged with engaging in criminal acts to further the aims of what prosecutors characterize as a violent gang.

Defendant Charles Gensemer’s mother, Sue Gensemer, said she doesn’t believe her son is part of the white supremacist gang, noting that he has been accepting of her long-term relationship with a woman.

She suggested that if Gensemer was making and selling methamphetamine on behalf of the brotherhood, as the government contends, he would have had enough money to visit her in California. The two haven’t seen each other in eight years, she said.

J.D. Hemphill said he hired Aryan Warrior Mike Yost to work for his Pahrump company, Four-Star Plastering. Hemphill said Yost, who is accused of helping to smuggle methamphetamine into the prison system, never appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

“He was a very hard worker,” Hemphill said. “He was out there every day before daylight and there until late.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Bliss suggested there were two sides to the defendants: one that family members were exposed to and one of dedication to a gang that sought control of the Nevada prison system through violence, drug dealing and the corrupting of prison guards.

The government wrapped up its case on Thursday and the defense was clearly unimpressed.

All six defense attorneys moved to have the most serious charge, being part of a criminal enterprise, dismissed. Attorney Mark Bailus, who represents Ronnie Lee Jones, said the government’s evidence was “woefully inadequate.”

Bailus said his client wasn’t even a member of the Aryan Warriors when charges were brought against him.

“They are all individuals doing what they’re doing for themselves,” he said. “This is not a (criminal) conspiracy,” he said. “This is the federal government doing what the federal government does, overreaching.”

Bailus’ colleagues made similar arguments to U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson. They said prisoners typically migrate to their own race and form gangs to protect themselves from attacks. Chris Rasmussen, who represents defendant Robert Young, said the Aryan Warriors did drugs together and stood up for each other, but were not a criminal organization and did not run prison yards.

“That’s the way you survive at Ely State Prison,” Rasmussen said of joining a gang. “That’s the only way to survive at Ely State Prison.”

Dawson is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss next week.

Rasmussen also criticized the government’s witnesses, which included violent convicts, some of whom were former Aryan Warriors, who were offered plea agreements.

“That’s the government’s case,” he said. “Snitches, robbers, rapists and murderers.”

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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