The self-professed leader of the Maryland-based prison gang Dead Man Inc. was sentenced to life in prison Monday after threatening to withdraw his guilty plea, according to federal prosecutors.
The plea agreement will spare James Sweeney, 35, a possible death sentence in a separate case in which he was charged with killing a fellow inmate. The former Locust Point resident, who is being held in federal prison in Texas, admitted under the agreement that he was a leader of Dead Man Inc. and that he ordered "hits for hire in order to raise money and also to enable white prisoners to retaliate against black gangs" in Maryland, court records show.
Sweeney had first pleaded guilty in September, after promising to rescind an agreed-upon plea deal. In recent months, he's been firing off various missives to the court and the media, and filed a motion to withdraw his plea. But by the time he got to court for Monday's hearing, he had decided to pull back that motion.
"Defendant makes this request voluntarily and without coercion," Sweeney said in a hand-written motion. According to a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein, Sweeney received a life sentence at that hearing.
In previous court filings, Sweeney wrote that Dead Man Inc was divided into two groups - DMI, an empowerment group, and Power Over All, a criminal offshoot. He argued that he wasn't aware of the specific criminal acts allegedly carried out by the group and his attorneys had misled him.
The co-founder of the gang, Perry Roark, earlier this year pleaded guilty and received life in prison. He renounced the gang at his sentencing.
Roark developed Dead Man Inc. by merging three other gangs within the Maryland prison system in the late 1990s, after he was rejected by the African-American Black Guerrilla Family gang, investigators have said
DMI began as a sort of white contractor for the Black Guerrilla Family, carrying out killings and assaults for the black gang in exchange for drugs, and grew into its own criminal brotherhood, looking out for its members' safety and addictions, prosecutors said.