Two informants in the federal government’s case against members of a white supremacist prison gang also assisted in the undercover investigation of a Nevada corrections officer accused of aiding the gang, court records show.
Attorney Chris Rasmussen contends that prosecutors failed to share that information with his client, Robert Young, one of five reputed members of the Aryan Warriors who were convicted in July. That failure should warrant a dismissal of Young’s case, the lawyer said.
“At the time of the trial, we had no information of actual charges brought against prison guards that had contact with Aryan Warrior members,” Rasmussen wrote in a recent motion.
Prosecutors have until Wednesday to respond to the document.
Records show that Patrick Ahching, a corrections officer at the Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs, was arrested in July 2007. He is no longer in custody.
Ahching, 33, is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 12 in District Court on charges of furnishing a controlled substance to a state prisoner, requesting or receiving a bribe, and unlawfully possessing a controlled substance.
Young, 31, was accused of running a gambling ring for the Aryan Warriors. He was convicted of a racketeering charge, and his sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 9.
According to Rasmussen’s motion, the main witnesses against his client were Michael Alvarez, who testified that Young had sold him methamphetamine that had been reduced to liquid, and Della Mitchell.
Both witnesses were questioned at trial about their work as confidential informants. They testified about working as undercover informants to set up a Hawaii attorney in a drug smuggling operation, according to the motion. But they did not say they had worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections.
According to the document, Rasmussen learned about the case against Ahching in mid-August from attorney Lance Maningo, who represents the former officer.
“If this evidence was made available prior to cross-examination of the Alvarez-Mitchell team, witnesses could have been interviewed to impeach their credibility,” Rasmussen wrote. “Ahching himself could have had information regarding where Alvarez was actually receiving his drugs. It appears, through the limited evidence that has now been identified, Ahching could have been providing drugs to him throughout his stay with NDOC.”
According to the lawyer’s motion, Alvarez and Mitchell “have made a career of setting up individuals.” In the Aryan Warriors case, according to the document, Alvarez testified that he was placed in a cell next to two members of the gang and communicated with them in hopes of discovering information that could reduce his sentence.
“The question that remains unanswered and is highlighted in the newly discovered evidence is what direction did the NDOC play in this arrangement,” Rasmussen wrote. “How many inmates or guards did Alvarez attempt to set up.”
According to an investigation report, an investigator with the inspector general’s office interviewed Ahching on July 19, 2007, at the Clark County Detention Center, and Ahching admitted he was given $500 to bring drugs and jewelry into the Southern Desert Correctional Center.
“He said he was pressured by the Aryan Warriors and they had threatened to ‘get his family,’ ” according to the report.
During the federal trial, prosecutors spent weeks presenting evidence to show how the Aryan Warriors killed or attempted to kill fellow inmates in their effort to dominate prison yards throughout the state. FBI agents testified that the guards were still under investigation.
Eight defendants in the case pleaded guilty prior to trial. One was acquitted at trial.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.