What’s in a name? How about a scheme to get out of prison? Four federal inmates were indicted Tuesday on allegations that they copyrighted their names, then demanded millions of dollars from prison officials for using the names without authorization.
The indictment alleges inmates Russell Dean Landers, Clayton Heath Albers, Carl Ervin Batts and Barry Dean Bischof sent demand notices to the warden of the El Reno federal prison, filed liens against his property and then hired an individual to seize his vehicles, freeze his bank accounts, and change the locks on his house.
Then, believing the warden’s property had been seized, the inmates demanded to be released from prison before they would negotiate with the warden to give his property back, according to the indictment.
U.S. Attorney John C. Richter said the individual hired by the inmates turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
Richter said the four men and William Michael Roberson, 50, of Baton Rouge, La., were indicted on accusations of conspiring to impede the duties of federal prison officials. Richter said Roberson is accused of assisting the four inmates in the scheme that allegedly took place in late 2003 and early 2004.
All five were also indicted on charges of mailing threatening communications with the intent to extort.
The conspiracy count carries maximum penalties of six years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The mail charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.