James Sweeney, who prosecutors say is one of the co-founders of the violent Dead Man Inc. gang, has been writing to The Baltimore Sun in recent months, saying the organization has been mischaracterized and seeking to set things straight. This week, he filed a formal motion with the court along the same lines. 

Sweeney faced the death penalty after being charged with killing a federal prison inmate in Texas, along with his indictment in the Dead Man Inc. racketeering conspiracy case. He pleaded guilty in the latter case in exchange for a life sentence, and has since been firing off a number of missives, including sending The Sun a 100-plus page copy of the group's handbook.

Members have been accused of murder, drug-dealing and other crimes across the Baltimore region, and authorities say the gang has spread to several states. 

In Sweeney's latest letter, a "motion to correct the record" which appeared in the federal docket this week and you can view here, he tells the court that Dead Man Inc was a general brotherhood created "for the furtherance and preservation of our members, children, families and communities," while offshoot organization Power Over All, he acknowledged, was a wholly separate but nonetheless entirely criminal gang. He even tells the group's secret oath, called a "whisper."

Sweeney wrote that he is "the founder and creator of both DMI and POA, therefore he intimately knows what they are and what they are not."

"And Dead Man Incorporated is NOT a violent racketeering enterprise as cited within the indictment, DMI is NOT involved in any criminal activity and does not promote criminal activity," Sweeney wrote. "That honor belongs solely to Power Over All (POA) and NOT DMI."

Perry Roark, considered the founder and longtime leader, has pleaded guilty and renounced the gang.

Sweeney argued that he had no knowledge of POA's specific crimes, but nevertheless recognized that as its acknowledged leader he falls responsible. "Therefore, the defendant has accepted full responsibility for the actions of the criminal organization known as Power Over All (POA)."

Only Sweeney may know the true significance of all this after-the-fact manuevering, but several co-defendants charged in the original indictment have yet to go to trial.

jfenton@baltsun.com