Courts news

An admitted prison gang leader will have to serve a full prison term after his probation was revoked on new charges he was involved in a contraband smuggling scheme at the Polk County Jail.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., who prosecutors say is a lieutenant in the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, was charged in September for his involvement in a contraband smuggling scheme. On Tuesday, Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court Judge Mark Murphy revoked the remainder of Paul’s probation.

Tallapoosa Circuit Assistant District Attorney Jaeson Smith said state gang experts and Paul’s own voice on phone recordings made at the jail were presented as evidence.

In September, charges 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 to the jail.

The group is accused of leaving contraband on highways and near dumpsters where inmates had access to the items — including drugs and tobacco.

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.”

Paul also was sending money to a relative in a Florida prison through his connections outside of the jail.

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 from a 2015 incident.

Tallapoosa Circuit District Attorney Jack Browning said they received assistance through training resources to tackle growing gang-related crime in Georgia.

The Sheriff’s Office Gang Investigation Unit, the Polk County Drug Task Force and other local agencies — including the district attorney’s office — are getting an education on various criminal organizations operating locally and around the state.

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