CHICAGO (CBS) — It was Labor Day week when prosecutors first kicked off the federal racketeering trial of six alleged leaders of Chicago’s so-called “super gang,” the Hobos.
Now, well after Thanksgiving, the feds have finally wrapped up their case. The trial still isn’t over, but U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. has said he is determined to end it by Christmas.
Prosecutors formally rested their case Monday afternoon after a federal agent read aloud the “beyond the grave” grand jury testimony of FBI informant Keith Daniels, who testified before he was gunned down in April 2013. The feds say he was executed for cooperating with the feds against the Hobos, including alleged Hobo leaders Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester, Paris Poe, Gabriel Bush and Arnold Council — Daniels’ brother.
“I understood that ‘Bowlegs’ was the leader of the Hobos,” Daniels told the grand jury. “Under ‘Bowlegs’ were my brother Arnold, Poe and Gabe, who all seemed to have equal rank.”
The feds spent 12 weeks this fall explaining to jurors how the gang terrorized the West and South sides for nearly 10 years, allegedly killing nine people and opening fire on several more along the way. Jurors have heard from people who saw their loved ones murdered before their eyes, and from others who lived to explain how they were tortured by members of the gang.
Jurors watched a former NBA player seemingly forget how he was robbed at gunpoint before engaging in a high-speed car chase around Chicago with two alleged high-ranking Hobos. And last week, they watched a man simply refuse to testify out of concern for his family. That man took two months in jail rather than turn against the gang.
Now each of the six alleged gang leaders have an opportunity to put on a defense before the jury gets the case.
So far, defense attorneys have largely pointed to perceived flaws in the way authorities investigated the Hobos — to inconsistent reports, alleged tunnel-vision by officers and possible missteps during interviews of the defendants. But they have also tried to undermine the credibility of the government’s witnesses.
Last week, for example, the defense attorney for alleged Hobo assassin Poe confronted Daniels’ girlfriend. Shanice Peatry saw Daniels’ April 14, 2013 murder and swiftly identified Poe as the killer on a 911 call even though the shooter wore a mask. But she later acknowledged that Daniels had cooperated against multiple people — creating several potential enemies — and he was warned about two people “out west” who wanted to kill him hours before he died. She also admitted she lied to a federal grand jury about a Facebook post.
Poe is also accused of participating in the murder of Wilbert Moore, a Chicago police informant, in January 2006. But while the informant murders are among the gang’s most notorious, jurors have heard about plenty of other victims of the Hobos’ violence — including innocent bystanders.
One man explained how he was shot nine times while trying to pick his son up from daycare on the South Side in June 2007. The shooting was tied to a war that year between the Hobos’ Dirty Low faction and the Fifth Ward Black Disciples and New Town Black Disciples. Bush, Derrick Vaughn and others opened fire on the man outside the daycare with a pistol “that shoots the equivalent of rifle rounds” because the man was a New Town Black Disciple associate, prosecutors claim.
Another man described watching the fatal shooting of his brother, Terrance Anderson, later that same year. Afterward, he initially told police he didn’t want to talk about it. And on the witness stand he explained that, “my brother got killed. I didn’t want to die too.” The feds have tied that murder to Bush and Council.
Ex-NBA player Bobby Simmons claimed to forget about his own run-in with Poe. But prosecutors eventually made him sit on the witness stand and listen as agents read his grand jury testimony — revealing that Poe and Council shot at Simmons at least 15 times while Simmons chased them through the streets of Chicago in June 2006. Poe allegedly had stolen Simmons’ $200,000 white gold and diamond necklace.
The ruthless and exclusive Hobos crew is an alliance of deadly street gangs forged in the now-demolished Robert Taylor Homes, according to the feds. During opening statements in September, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Otlewski called the Hobos “an all-star team of the worst of the worst” of Chicago’s street gangs.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)