A Pope County man who pleaded guilty to racketeering and drug conspiracy charges as part of a white supremacist gang-run drug trafficking ring will spend the next 15 years in prison after being sentenced Wednesday in federal court.
Jeffrey "100%" Knox -- described as an elder in the New Aryan Empire gang that began in prison and later expanded into the community -- pleaded guilty in November to the charges before U.S. District Judge Brian Miller.
On Wednesday, Miller noted that Knox would have faced a minimum 30-year sentence in federal prison for his crimes, but the judge said he'd cut Knox's sentence in half because of his cooperation with federal prosecutors in the recently concluded trial of another man with ties to the white supremacy group.
Before the hearing, family members walked into the courtroom, eliciting smiles and waves from Knox as he sat at the defense table with his attorney, Nicki Nicolo of North Little Rock.
Miller, looking over the federal statutes, noted that Knox could have been sentenced to a term up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000 and supervised release of up to five years on the racketeering count. On the drug conspiracy count, Knox could have been sentenced to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.
The man whom Knox testified against, Marcus Millsap, 53, of Danville was convicted last month of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, aiding and abetting attempted murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Millsap was the only defendant of 55 indictees to face trial. Of the defendants indicted between 2017 and 2019, 53 -- including Knox -- pleaded guilty. Millsap went to trial, and Troy Loadholdt, the Russellville man who was initially named as the No. 1 defendant in the case, has been missing and considered a fugitive by federal authorities since 2017.
Miller told Knox that based on his age of 46 years, Knox would have a good chance of enjoying a life out of prison if he has truly had a change of heart.
"Based on what I saw," Miller said, "what I could tell and what the jury could tell, it appeared you were doing the best you could to give the best testimony you could give, the most accurate.
"So I am going to give you the half off for your testimony," Miller said. "Mr. Knox, you told me you are 46 years old, so this gives you a chance with good time to do your time and hopefully live a life and be able to spend time with your family the rest of your life and live your golden years with your family."
Before Miller announced his sentence, Knox addressed the courtroom, apologizing to his family and to Miller for his actions as he recanted his association with the New Aryan Empire.
"I'd like to apologize to my family for making them go through this and to thank them for sticking by me," Knox said, his voice breaking. "I wish I could apologize to any and all people that I may have harmed. ... I apologize to the court for having to bother with this. ... I had a bad drug condition, and I let it take me to a real low level in my life."
In addition to the 15-year sentence, Miller ordered Knox to serve five years of supervised release.