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A CA woman spent money that was left at her house. Then she was told she owed the Aryan Brotherhood a favor

A CA woman spent money that was left at her house. Then she was told she owed the Aryan Brotherhood a favor

FRESNO — In the fall of 2020, Amanda Gourley was given money to safeguard at her Fresno home, by her boyfriend’s Aryan Brotherhood-affiliated brother.

She ended up spending the money, and that’s how — according to Gourley’s attorney — she ended up on a trip from California’s Central Valley to Montana, in a rental car full of methamphetamine. When the shipment was intercepted by federal authorities, Gourley found herself on a federal indictment alongside heavy hitters in the infamous white supremacist prison gang who were accused of murder.

Gourley’s case ended on Monday, when U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston sentenced her to five years and three months in federal prison, giving her until October to turn herself in. She has been out of custody with pending charges for almost three years, and taken advantage of her freedom to seek drug addiction counseling, her attorney wrote.

Federal prosecutors accused Gourley of associating with both the Aryan Brotherhood and the Fresnecks, a street gang under the control of the AB. The indictment, filed the week of Thanksgiving 2020, accused Gourley and a Fresnecks affiliate named Jacob Renshaw of working together to transport 15 pounds of methamphetamine from California to Montana, at the direction of Kenneth Bash, an incarcerated man who was working to join the Aryan Brotherhood.

Gourley, who allegedly went by “Biggie,” was communicating directly with Bash on his contraband cellphone, authorities said. Despite being behind bars in Salinas Valley State Prison, Bash was able to not just direct drug shipments, but advise Gourley and Renshaw on every step of the process, from purchasing a rental car to making sure the three couriers didn’t bicker or fight along the journey, court records say.

But according to Gourley’s attorney, she participated in the scheme because she was afraid of what would happen to her if she didn’t. After Gourley spent the money she was supposed to safeguard, the Aryan Brotherhood “sent someone to her house and basically let her know what her boyfriend’s brother was capable of and told her that she would need to do a favor for the source of the money she had spent,” the attorney wrote.

The defense attorney, Steven Crawford, wrote that during the trip to Montana, Gourley won enough money at a Nevada casino to pay Bash back, and decided to go back to Fresno right then and there. The other two couriers continued toward Montana, but made it as far as Utah, where authorities stopped the car, found the drugs and arrested everyone.

“It is clear from the facts and discovery in this case that Ms. Gourley was under a lot of pressure to take part in this illegal activity due to the fear she had for her life,” Crawford wrote.

After the indictment was filed, prosecutors revealed that they’d been wiretapping Bash’s prison cellphone, and intercepted many conversations about drug shipments, plots of violence and gang politics, according to court records. Since 2020, the case has evolved to include incarcerated Aryan Brotherhood members and associates who allegedly conspired to commit six murders — two in prison and two separate double homicides in Southern California.