U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sentenced five members of the “Guardians” gang last Friday to federal prison terms. Maynard Kenneth Godwin (33, Jacksonville), Andrew Chase Wilkie (31, Callahan) and Eric Steven Ellis (28, Atlantic Beach) were convicted of conspiracy and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Godwin was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, Wilkie was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison and Ellis was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
Billy James Harper (31, Jacksonville), Brock Skov (32, Jacksonville), and Jonathan Hart (31, Jacksonville) were convicted of violating the RICO Act.
Skov was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in federal prison, and Harper was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in federal prison. A sentencing date for Hart has not yet been scheduled.
According to court documents, inspired by the television show Sons of Anarchy, Godwin formed his own gang and called it the “Guardians.” He was the “Boss,” Wilkie was the “Enforcer,” Harper was the “Lieutenant,” and Skov was the “Technician.” Ellis and Hart were associates of the Guardians.
The gang committed a series of violent felonies and crimes, including an extortion that left one man nearly dead; the choking of a young woman until she passed out; armed bank robberies; armed home invasions; daily cocaine and opiate sales; and theft of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise from local stores.
Arrests were made in November 2010 when an investigation revealed that the gang was preparing to commit additional home invasion robberies. The robberies committed by the Guardians resulted in the loss of almost $2 million to their victims.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Patricia Barksdale and Jay Taylor.