TROY, Mo. — A federal judge has rebuffed a bid for freedom from a former member of a white supremacist gang who was the first inmate to test positive for COVID-19 at the Lincoln County jail.
Thomas B. Wilson of Villa Ridge in Franklin County is in the jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in March to a felony charge related to the beating of a fellow Aryan Circle gang member at a Fenton park in 2013.
After Wilson tested positive for the coronavirus, his lawyer filed a motion to have him released from jail into the custody of his girlfriend. The motion has not been publicly filed, but the response from federal prosecutors has. It says that Wilson is a flight risk and a danger to the community, citing an evaluation from court staff.
It also says that Wilson has been quarantined in the booking area of the jail and checked by medical staff daily. He has not been showing “any fever, cough or body aches or pains,” and “keeping him quarantined and under constant observation” was all he needed, they said.
Wilson’s lawyer has declined to comment on the case.
Lincoln County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Binder said Tuesday that nine inmates have tested positive in the jail, but none are showing symptoms.
Two deputies and two staffers who tested positive have recovered.
The Lincoln County Health Department reported Monday a total of 48 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county, 26 “probable cases” and one death. Forty-seven people have recovered. The department said that 82% of the infected people did not need to be hospitalized.
Wilson has been in jail since his arrest Nov. 1, 2018.
As part of Wilson’s March guilty plea to one count of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering, the 44-year-old admitted that he was a member of the Aryan Circle gang at the time of the Nov. 9, 2013, attack. He also admitted directing and aiding in the attack at George Winter Park on the banks of the Meramec River.
Wilson, two other gang members and one aspiring member built a bonfire at the park, and later brought the victim and his girlfriend there. After confronting the man about “taking sides” within factions of the gang, the attack began, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angie Danis said in court.
Thomas Tisher hit the victim from behind with a piece of wood, Wilson’s plea says. Wilson, Tisher and two others dragged the man to the water’s edge and began beating him with rocks and sticks and their hands and feet, the plea says. One man tried to burn the victim’s Aryan Circle tattoos off with a burning piece of wood, and they left him unconscious on the riverbank.
The victim had to undergo several surgeries, including facial reconstruction and plastic surgery, and is still permanently disfigured, Danis said.
Aryan Circle was started in the Texas prison system in 1985 and later expanded inside and outside prison in states that include Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana and Louisiana, Wilson’s plea says. The gang smuggled drugs, cellphones and other contraband to inmates and sold drugs and guns to make money, the plea says.
Charges in the case were delayed because the victim was not cooperative at first and because local law enforcement didn’t realize the Aryan Circle connections and the significance of the assault case for several years, court filings said.
Two men, Daniel B. Jerome, 32, of Wentzville, and Tisher, 36, of St. Louis, have already been sentenced to five years in prison.
Dustin M. Haney, 29, of Hermann, is scheduled to be sentenced June 18, the day after Wilson.