A federal jury on Wednesday convicted six reputed leaders of the violent Hobos street gang of racketeering conspiracy charges alleging the gang carried out a slew of killings, kidnappings, robberies and shootings over the course of a decade.
After a marathon 15-week trial that featured hundreds of witnesses and four days of closing arguments, the jury deliberated into a sixth day before finding all six defendants guilty of the main racketeering count that carries a sentence of up to life in prison, as well as nine other counts.
Among those convicted was Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester, the gang’s reputed leader who testified in his own defense last month. The jury also convicted alleged gang lieutenants Paris Poe, Arnold Council, Gabriel Bush, Stanley Vaughn and William Ford.
As the verdicts were read in U.S. District Judge John Tharp’s packed courtroom, Chester sat without expression, his elbow on the defense table and a hand resting on his right cheek. Behind him, Poe frowned and rolled his eyes, dressed in a gray suit and leather loafers with shackles on his ankles visible.
Later, when the judge praised the jury for its “extraordinary service,” Poe appeared to smirk. Tharp set sentencing for June 23.
The trial unfolded as skyrocketing gun violence in Chicago made embarrassing headlines across the country and even became an issue in the recent presidential election. Earlier this week, President-elect Donald Trump called for federal intervention if local authorities can’t get a handle on a homicide rate that in 2016 reached levels not seen in two decades.
Prosecutors alleged the Hobos’ ruthless use of violence fueled the gang’s rise to the top of the city’s drug trade. Among the casualties were two gang rivals who had just attended a funeral, a semi-pro basketball player who was slain in a case of mistaken identity, an innocent bystander from Los Angeles visiting relatives and an elderly woman killed in a car crash as police chased a fleeing Hobo member, according to the charges.
But the centerpiece of the case was the alleged murders of two informants who were cooperating with law enforcement against the gang. Jurors heard evidence that Poe and Council fatally shot Wilbert “Big Shorty” Moore outside a South Side barbershop in 2006 because they believed Moore had provided information to police that led to a raid on a Hobos residence.
In April 2013, Poe cut off an electronic monitoring device and ambushed informant Keith Daniels outside his Dolton apartment, according to prosecutors. Dressed in all black and wearing a mask, Poe shot Daniels more than a dozen times in front of his fiancee and two young children as payback for Daniels’ cooperation with the FBI in a drug conspiracy case against Chester, the charges alleged.
In its verdict, which took nearly 20 minutes for the judge to read in the courtroom, the jury found that each of five murders was conducted by the gang in a “cold and calculated” and premeditated manner. The jury also found specifically that Moore and Daniels were killed to keep them from cooperating against the gang.
The jury found the six defendants guilty on every count except one lesser charge against Ford of using a gun in furtherance of a gang crime. Continue Reading
Article Org: chicagotribune.com