Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman, who has withdrawn from a large federal racketeering case against alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang, cited "security reasons" in an email he sent Monday to defense attorneys involved in the case, according to one lawyer who received the email.
"He sent the email to every lawyer representing a defendant in the Aryan Brotherhood federal case, and he said -- very short email -- that he was withdrawing for security reasons," Houston attorney Katherine Scardino told TPM on Tuesday.
After the recent killings of two prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas, media reports have made note of the county district attorney's office's role in the investigation of the prison gang. But no material evidence has been found linking the prison gang to the murdered prosecutors. Nevertheless, Scardino said she understood Hileman's decision.
"I did email him back and told him that I was sorry he was getting off the case, but I certainly understood," Scardino said.
Scardino client, Terry Sillers, was a "general" in the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Sillers has agreed to cooperate with the government and pleaded guilty in the case. According to Scardino, Sillers will not be sentenced until after he testifies in the other cases as needed. Sillers is currently under protective custody, and not even his lawyer knows where he is being held.
"I don't know where Mr. Sillers is, he's under protective custody," Scardino said. "And I don't really want to know."
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas refused to confirm or deny Hileman's withdrawal in response to a query from TPM.
(Photo: Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer speaks during a news conference about charges against members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas at the U.S. Attorney's office Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Houston. AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Cody Duty)