16 from Lexington County among 40 indicted in federal racketeering conspiracy

A federal grand jury returned a 147-count superseding indictment against 40 defendants across South Carolina in the largest federal racketeering conspiracy in South Carolina history, US Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., announced Thursday.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon stood with other local, state and federal law enforcement leaders as U.S. McCoy announced the indictments. Lexington County deputies were part of the effort that resulted in the seizure of more than 130 guns, meth, heroin and fentanyl.

The indictment alleges a sprawling criminal enterprise whereby inmates with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), often by means of contraband cell phones, orchestrated murder, kidnapping, firearms distribution, and an international drug operation.

The following defendants have been charged in the indictment for conduct related to their alleged roles in the RICO conspiracy and/or related crimes: 

  • Matthew J. Ward, a/k/a “Bones,” 36, of Lexington;
  • Rebecca Martinez, 33, of Lexington;
  • Cynthia Rooks, 52, of Lexington;
  • Richard Ford, 62, of Lexington;
  • Amber Hoffman, 26, of Lexington;
  • Samuel Dexter Judy, 29, of Lexington;
  • Brian Bruce, 48, of West Columbia;
  • Montana Barefoot, 25, of Lexington;
  • John Johnson, 36, of Gaston;
  • Kelly Still, 43, of Windsor;
  • Benjamin Singleton, 46, of Lexington;
  • Kayla Mattoni, 38, of Lexington;
  • Alexia Youngblood, 38, of Lexington;
  • Clifford Kyzer, 35, of Lexington;
  • Kelly Jordan, 34, of Williamston;
  • Mark Edward Slusher, 46, of Lexington;
  • Robert Figueroa, 43, of West Columbia;
  • Tiffanie Brooks, 36, of Columbia;
  • Crystal Nicole Bright, 40, of Lexington;
  • Brittney Shae Stephens, 32, of Anderson;
  • Arian Grace Jeane, 26, of Greenville;
  • Lisa Marie Costello, 43, of Gaffney;
  • Aaron Corey Sprouse, 29, of Gaffney;
  • Matthew Edward Clark, 41, of York;
  • James Robert Peterson, a/k/a/ “Man Man,” 32, of Gaffney;
  • Edward Gary Akridge, a/k/a “G9,” a/k/a “G9 the Don,” a/k/a/ “Eddie Boss,” 28, of Greenville;
  • Aaron Michael Carrion, a/k/a “Cap G,” 28, of Lexington;
  • Heather Henderson Orrick, 33, of Greenville;
  • Virginia Ruth Ryall, 43, of Gastonia, North Carolina;
  • Lisa Marie Bolton, 32, of Dallas, North Carolina;
  • Catherine Amanda Ross, 28, of Gaffney;
  • Brandon Lee Phillips, a/k/a “Lil B,” 36, of Gaffney;
  • Billy Wayne Ruppe, 55, of Gaffney;
  • Windy Brooke George, 21, of Gaffney;
  • Juan Rodriguez, a/k/a “Fat Boy,” 40, of Woodruff;
  • Jonathan Eugene Merchant, a/k/a/ “Merck,” 27, of Laurens;
  • Joshua Lee Scott Brown, 23, of Greenville;
  • Jennifer Sorgee, 36, of Easley;
  • Alex Blake Payne, 28, of Greenville; and
  • Sally Williams Burgess, a/k/a “Cricket,” 37, of Greenville.

Of these defendants, Ward, Peterson, Akridge, and Rodriguez were serving sentences in SCDC at the time the alleged crimes were committed.

Every defendant charged in the RICO conspiracy faces the potential penalty of life in prison due to sentencing enhancements through IGD’s involvement in murders and significant drug trafficking. Additionally, the defendants charged with murder in aid of racketeering and kidnapping in aid of racketeering also face life imprisonment. There are additional penalties for those charged with firearms crimes, drug crimes, robbery, and assault.