An admitted leader within the Aryan Brotherhood will have to serve a full prison term after his probation was revoked on new charges he was involved in a contraband smuggling scheme at the Polk County Jail.
Ronald “Ronnie” Paul Jr., 25, who was charged in September for his involvement in a contraband smuggling scheme, went before Judge Mark Murphy the Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court in a probation revocation hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 5. During the hearing, much of the evidence against him in the conspiracy case unearthed by Polk County Sheriff’s deputies following an August discovery of drugs and tobacco.
Assistant District Attorney Jaeson Smith said he brought state gang experts into the courtroom and also presented Paul’s own voice on phone recordings made at the jail where he admitted his leadership role as a lieutenant in the Aryan Brotherhood as just some of the evidence in a wider jail smuggling conspiracy. Charges in the case in September were filed against David Crider, along with family members and friends including Crystal Bruce, Yvonne Paul, Elaine Van Camp for their involvement in smuggling contraband during an August incident involving a juvenile leaving contraband near dumpsters where inmates had access to the items. Two more ended up being charged in the case for a total of six overall.
Smith said that through deputies in the Sheriff’s Office Gang Investigation Unit spending hours going through recordings of phone calls between Paul and others, they were able to determine that he was the head of the smuggling operation, and also his leadership role in the Aryan Brotherhood.
“Ultimately we determined that Ronnie Paul was the one in the jail who was organizing these drops in and around the jail,” Smith said. “Paul was the organizer as the true gang enterprise system within the jail.”
Some of those drops took place on the highways and were smuggled in via inmate work crews, and others took place at the jail itself sticking contraband through fencing around the property.
“Once we determined when the drops were taking place, investigators were then able to pull surveillance footage and ultimately determine who was working with Ronnie Paul on the outside to make these drops,” Smith said.
Paul also was sending money to a relative in a Florida prison through his connections outside of the jail.
Smith said it was just a first step in tackling contraband getting into the Polk County Jail.
“For the time being, we’ve cut the dragon’s head off but we expect it to grow back over time,” he said. “We went after the top leader, and we’ll continue those efforts.”
Paul was back in the Polk County Jail on new charges after he served four years in prison on a 20-year sentence on aggravated assault and criminal trespass and damage to property charges he took a guilty plea on in 2015.
District Attorney Jack Browning said that he hoped the latest development in the smuggling case will give pause to gang members operating within Polk County as law enforcement continues to assert pressure on criminal organizations like the Aryan Brotherhood, the Gangster Disciples and the Ghostface Gang.
“While gangs are not a pervasive problem here in Polk, if we ignore them, they will become one,” Browning said. “This case sends a pretty good shot across the bow and sends the message that we know about you, and that we’re onto you.”
Browning said that support from the executive branch at the state level has given district attorney’s offices around the state the confidence to pursue gang-related cases with the knowledge they have support from Governor Brian Kemp.
He added that training resources to tackle growing gang-related crime in Georgia is on the rise, and that the Sheriff’s Office Gang Investigation Unit, the Polk County Drug Task Force and other local agencies — including his own — are getting an education on various criminal organizations operating locally and around the state.
Paul’s case will go before the grand jury in the coming months. If convicted at trial, he could face an additional 85 years of prison time on charges including use of communication facility in committing or facilitating a felony act, conspiracy to commit a felony, Party to a crime, unlawful for person employ / association with criminal street gang to conduct / participate in criminal activity, unlawful for person to commit offense with intent to obtain / gain criminal street gang status / position, unlawful for person with criminal street gang position to engage / consider criminal street gang and felony gang position.
It was the first case worked by the newly formed Sheriff’s Office Gang Investigation Unit. Sheriff Johnny Moats said in a press release about Paul’s sentencing he will continue to promote the unit’s investigation work.
“As the Sheriff of Polk County, my office will work hard to identify, monitor, and arrest anyone that is involved in any criminal gang. There is no room for criminal gangs in Polk County,” he said.