An Aryan Brotherhood member who has been a fugitive since federal officials in Sacramento charged 16 people in a massive racketeering and murder probe killed himself in a Costa Rican jail last month hours after being apprehended.
Matthew Hall, 50, of Hermosa Beach, hanged himself Sept. 27 after Costa Rican authorities arrested him at a home he was living in at the time.
“On or about Sept. 27, 2019, authorities in the area of Jaco, Garabito, Costa Rica, arrested defendant Matthew Hall and placed him into custody,” court filings say. “Within hours of his arrest, defendant Hall took his own life in his cell.”
Hall, whose nicknames included “Psycho” or “Cyco,” had been an Aryan Brotherhood member since at least 2018 and was suspected of plotting murders for the California prison gang and assisting in distributing huge amounts of methamphetamine, according to documents filed in federal court in Sacramento.
He was accused in a 2016 plot to kill a fellow Aryan Brotherhood member – Michael “Thumper” Trippe – on orders from imprisoned Aryan Brotherhood leader Ronald Yandell, court filings say.
Those plans, recorded by federal authorities as they were discussed on contraband prison cell phones, included discussion of having another AB member kill Trippe as well as his wife or girlfriend, if necessary, but “not to murder Trippe in front of Trippe’s kids,” court documents say.
Trippe was later tipped to the plans by law enforcement officers who “found him and told him that his life was in danger,” court filings say.
The alleged plot came after Hall had been released from custody in 2016 and later was found to be in possession of multiple firearms at his house, according to court documents. Those weapons, seized in a 2 a.m. raid by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, included “.45-caliber guns, 9 mm-caliber guns, .40-caliber guns and a ‘chopper,’” slang for an assault rifle, court filings say.
Hall’s suicide in custody comes as other Aryan Brotherhood members who have been transferred from state prisons to Sacramento have been complaining about their treatment in the county jail downtown.
The inmates are being held in isolation on the eighth floor of the jail while they await trial in the case, which could lead to the federal death penalty for some.
“This is going to be a long case, and the current living conditions for the defendants at the jail are not sustainable, and the conditions under which the attorneys will have to prepare for trial are unacceptable,” lawyers for the defendants wrote in a July letter to prosecutors.
The letter complained that their clients “are locked up in dark, cramped, filthy cells for 23 1/2 hours or more per day.”
“While held in isolation, defendants are deprived of human contact, programming, fresh air and sunlight,” the lawyers wrote.
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones has dismissed their complaints.
“While I can certainly appreciate this group’s frustration that they do not get to enjoy all the freedoms they had in the California prison system – that same system, incidentally, where they were able to carry out the extraordinarily heinous crimes that they are now being charged with – they are treated and housed according to their charges and in-custody conduct,” Jones said in a statement to The Bee last month.
“Further, all are receiving what is required under state and federal law, and all have processes available to them to address any grievance, enjoy unfettered access to their attorneys, and acquire any medically necessary treatment.”