CHICAGO (CBS) — Nine members of a south side street gang face federal racketeering charges that, if convicted, could put some of them on the federal government’s Death Row.
Their indictment Thursday is the result of a seven-year investigation by Chicago police and agents from a handful of federal agencies.
The five-count indictment includes accusations of five murders committed between 2006 and 2008; the solicitation of a sixth murder in 2007; four attempted murders; three robberies and years of drug sales in areas south of 41st Street, north of Garfield Boulevard and east of the Dan Ryan Expressway.
In one case, reputed gang members Arnold Council and Paris Poe are accused of killing a cooperating federal witness, Wilbert Moore, in January 2006. Interim U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro said that kind of intimidation made the case especially difficult to prosecute.
“Did you ever do a murder investigation where no one wanted to talk to you?” said Shapiro, when asked why the investigation took so long to unfold. “These cases take a long time to put together, particularly cases that are based insubstantial part on witness testimony in an area where the last thing witnesses want to do it talk to you.”
Poe, Council and fellow gang members Gabriel Bush and Byron Brown could face a mandatory life sentence or the federal death penalty if convicted of murder in aid of racketeering. The decision whether to seek the death penalty is up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has made no decision in the case.
All nine were already in either state or federal custody, and will face arraignment at an undetermined date. Nonetheless, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he hoped the indictments would serve as “a warning” to other violent gangbangers.
Shapiro said the indictments were announced Thursday because it was the last day of the 18-month grand jury impaneled in the case. He said it was a mere coincidence that the indictments were returned the same day a Senate committee approved the nomination of Zachary Fardon as the new U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.