Federal indictments of 23 alleged members of the whites-only Ghost Face Gangsters prison gang are rippling through Floyd, Chattooga and Polk counties.
At least two of the defendants named in the U.S. Department of Justice case unsealed last week are being housed in the Floyd County Jail. Another is a Rome resident.
And the man accused of shooting to death a Polk County police officer last year is an unindicted member of the gang, according to court documents.
"On or about September 29, 2017, GFG member SS murdered Polk County Detective Kristen Hearn(e)," reads No. 77 of a list of 95 "overt acts" allegedly committed by the gang in the indictment filed under seal Feb. 8 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Rome.
Seth Spangler and Samantha Roof are charged with murdering Hearne, who was investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle near the intersection of Ga. 100 and Santa Claus Road south of Cave Spring.
GBI Director Vernon Keenan said at the time that Spangler and Roof approached Hearne and Officer David Goodrich and, "suddenly, Spangler pulled out a handgun and shot both officers. Goodrich was saved by his bulletproof vest and was able to return fire and call for help."
The murder case is pending in Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court.
District Attorney Jack Browning said Monday he couldn't comment on information in the federal case. A hearing is scheduled for today in Superior Court.
"It will cover two things: A request to allow cameras in the courtroom for the trial and the arraignment, when they'll enter pleas of guilty or not guilty," Browning said.
Hearne will be remembered in Chattooga County later this month when the Detective Kristen Snead Hearne Memorial Foundation hosts two fundraisers on March 24 in Summerville.
Executive Director Patrick Snead, her brother, said a Back the Badge arts and crafts festival is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Chattooga County Civic Center, at U.S. 27 and Ga. 48. A benefit concert will follow from 6 to 9 p.m. at New Generation Church of God, 11 Kirby St. Admission is free, donations are accepted at the door.
The foundation funds scholarships at Rockmart and Cedartown high schools as well as Christmas shopping for needy children in Polk County.
Federal prosecution in Rome
The 21-count indictment against the Ghost Face Gangsters members includes allegations of conspiracies to commit racketeering and drug trafficking; carjacking; attempted murder; kidnapping; maiming; and firearms possession.
Floyd County Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell said the sheriff's office is not involved in the investigation but is housing some of the defendants in the county jail.
"We board inmates sometimes to help out the Marshals' office," he said.
U.S. marshals brought in David Powell, 40, of Albertville, Alabama, on Thursday and Marc Avon Lefevre, 32, of Woodstock, on Friday.
Powell is accused in the indictment of being a founding "pillar" of the gang, which prosecutors say originated in 2000 in the Cobb County jail system and expanded to include thousands of members outside prison.
Lefevre, also known as Ghost, is one of 13 members charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and illegal pills.
Kelly Ray Shiflett, 30, of Floyd County, also is named as a member of the Ghost Face Gangsters. Count 16 of the indictment charges him with being a convicted felon in possession of an illegal .40 caliber Glock on Dec. 29, 2017.
In addition to listing the Floyd County Sheriff's Office as one of dozens of agencies assisting in the federal case, the DOJ cites the county's police department, Rome-Floyd Metro Task Force and district attorney's office.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the lead investigative agency, along with the Cobb County Police Department. Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace said Monday his officers provided support for one of the ATF agents involved.
“We provided some low-key info-gathering support,” Wallace said.
Rome Circuit District Attorney Leigh Patterson declined to discuss how her office assisted in the investigation.