A Pope County man who pleaded guilty last year to racketeering and drug conspiracy charges was sentenced Friday to over 27 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Brian Miller.
James Scott "Scottie" Oliver, 50, of Russellville was indicted Feb. 5, 2019, in a superseding indictment that added additional defendants and charges to a 2017 federal drug trafficking indictment implicating members of the New Aryan Empire, a violent white supremacist organization that began as a prison gang in the 1990s.
Oliver was indicted on one count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and faced the possibility of life in prison. He appeared in court from the Federal Correctional Center in Forrest City, where he is nearly 35 months into a 63-month federal sentence for a conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
An official from the federal probation office said Oliver will likely have to finish out his current sentence before beginning the new sentence, although Miller agreed to recommend that Oliver be allowed to begin serving the sentence concurrently as soon as the judgment is entered.
"That's up to the Bureau of Prisons," Miller said to Oliver's attorney, Lauren Dollins. "I can make the recommendation but they don't have to take it."
Dollins asked for the low-end sentence of 262 months for her client, citing his age, poor health, aging parents and a struggle with drug addiction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Liza Jane Brown noted that Oliver's criminal history spanned a considerable portion of his life, including most of his life since he turned 18.
"Mr. Oliver has been in trouble since age 20 and it continued on until he was 45 years old and continued on after that," Brown said. "Mr. Oliver has been involved in drugs and, more seriously, the solicitation to commit murder for another person on an informant. ... He solicited to commit murder on an informant three times. That's what he admitted to. And the informant's no longer with us. He's gone."
In handing down the 327-month sentence, which was a downward variance from the recommended guideline sentence of 30 years to life in prison, Miller opted for the high end of the adjusted guideline range of 262 to 327 months, citing Oliver's criminal history and participation in violent acts on behalf of the New Aryan Empire.
"Anytime you put a person, a human being, you lock up a human being, that's hard," Miller said. "But when you look at somebody with the history Mr. Oliver has, at some point it gets to the point where the calculation becomes easy. At some point you commit one offense and, OK, you give them a another chance. A second offense and maybe you give them a second chance, a third offense -- but if you keep doing it at some point the person has to be locked up to protect society."
According to the indictment, in January 2016, Oliver was offered $40,000 by co-conspirator Marcus Millsap to kill Bruce Wayne Hurley of Atkins, who the gang believed had provided information regarding a methamphetamine purchase from Millsap to federal authorities.
In turn, the indictment said, between March and May 2016, Oliver offered money -- $30,000 on one occasion and $50,000 on another -- to New Aryan Empire associates to kill Hurley.
Hurley was fatally shot at his home in May 2016. No arrests have been made in connection with his death.
Brown compared the maximum sentence to sentences received by others involved in the indictment and said a lengthy sentence would be needed to send a message to others considering engaging in the same type behavior.
"We've got to show Russellville and those communities that it's not OK to retaliate against informants," Brown said.