Tag Archives: gang

Opening statements finally set to begin in Hobo trial

(CHICAGO) After roughly a week of jury selection, opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday in the trial of Chicago’s so-called “super gang,” the Hobos.

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys may need more than four hours to lay out the case for jurors, who should settle in for months of testimony about brazen violence, torture and murder on Chicago’s South and West sides. The racketeering trial is taking place in the 14th-floor courtroom of U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The feds have tied six alleged Hobo gang members to nine murders, including the executions of Chicago Police informant Wilbert Moore and FBI informant Keith Daniels — the brother of one of the alleged gang members on trial. The Hobos’ violence spanned nearly a decade, from 2004 to 2013.

Prosectors believe Daniels was murdered to keep him from testifying, but the judge has ruled Daniels may speak from the grave through grand jury testimony offered before his death.

It’s not clear if prosecutors will have time to call their first witness Wednesday. But if they do, they’ve said it will be Nicholas Roti, the former chief of the organized crime bureau for the Chicago Police Department.

Prosecutors want Roti to testify as an expert about Chicago street gangs. But defense attorneys hope to attack him on cross-examination over his ties to the controversial police facility at Homan Square and allegations that he participated in retaliation against two officers who helped the feds prosecute corrupt Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Otlewski is expected to kick things off Wednesday with a 90-minute presentation on behalf of the government. The federal prosecutor has been known to cite Chicago’s notorious violence in his arguments, and this latest trial is taking place amid heightened concern over the city’s soaring murder numbers.

During the sentencing of Hobo gang member Gary Chester in May 2015, Otlewski cited the title of the upcoming Spike Lee film and said, “This is Chicago. It’s not ‘Chiraq.’”

The feds say Chester’s cousin, Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester, was the Hobos’ undisputed leader, and he is among the six alleged Hobos going to trial this week. So is Paris “Poleroski” Poe, allegedly a ruthless assassin for the gang.

Security is tight in Tharp’s courtroom. After walking through a metal detector in the courthouse lobby, spectators can expect to walk through another one before entering the courtroom. U.S. marshals are also watching the courtroom closely. Tharp has so far declined to shackle the Hobos during the trial, but jurors have remained anonymous.

Authorities say the Hobos are a collection of Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and others — a “renegade group” or “conglomerate.” Its core members built a base of operations out of the Robert Taylor public housing project, records show.

The gang members allegedly referred to each other as “Hobo,” and federal prison officials even once found a handmade “Happy Birthday Ho-Bo” card in the locker of inmate Stanley “Smiley” Vaughn, who has already admitted his role in the gang.

The gang’s fleet of automobiles included Dodge Chargers, Range Rovers and Cadillac Escalades. But Poe held on to an old-school Chevy Impala with the word “Hobo” stitched into the headrest.

The “Hobo” name is also tattooed on the skin of the gang’s alleged leaders, along with the words “The Earth Is Our Turf.”

Threats loom over gang trial; U.S. marshals want Hobos shackled

(CHICAGO) Security threats looming over an impending street-gang trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse have prompted U.S. marshals to ask a judge to take the rare step of shackling alleged gang members during their trial.

Among authorities’ concerns are threats that have allegedly been made toward people under U.S. Marshals Service protection in connection with the case, a marshal supervisor told a judge Tuesday. Ken Robinson said the matter is under investigation, and he wouldn’t elaborate in open court, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Seven members of the Hobos street gang, a so-called “super gang” conglomerate of Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and others, are set to go on trial for a racketeering conspiracy next week in the 14th-floor courtroom of U.S. District Judge John Tharp. The feds have tied the gang to at least nine murders and other acts of violence, including the torture of two South Side brothers with an iron.

The trial could last months.

Among the slayings are the 2013 assassination of Keith Daniels, a federal informant allegedly gunned down by Paris Poe, and the 2006 shooting of police informant Wilbert Moore, who was allegedly killed by Poe and Arnold Council. The murders have left federal prosecutors worried about the safety of other witnesses during and after the trial.

Robinson said Tuesday the alleged Hobos should be shackled during the trial because of the charges they face and their disciplinary history while in federal custody. He also told Tharp the marshals won’t have the manpower necessary to simultaneously supervise the alleged gang members and people in the gallery.

“What we cannot account for is the associates that may attend the trial on a daily basis,” Robinson said.

If shackled, the men would wear leg irons covered in duct tape so jurors wouldn’t hear them clinking while the men walk. A skirt would be added to the defense table in Tharp’s courtroom so jurors couldn’t see the shackles, Robinson told the judge.

Tharp has already ruled once in favor of shackles, records show. But defense attorneys asked him to reconsider, arguing “none of these defendants has a history of attacking guards or being disruptive in court.” Steve Greenberg, who represents an alleged Hobo named William Ford, told the judge Tuesday that such a move would be “terribly cruel.”

Federal prosecutors have also persuaded Tharp to select anonymous jurors for the trial, records show, a move typically made in mob or terrorism cases. But Tharp made no ruling on the shackles Tuesday, telling lawyers simply, “this situation will be resolved before the beginning of trial,” which starts Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, federal authorities have restricted access to a courtyard on the east side of the courthouse “to ensure the safety and security of all judges, employees, jurors and visitors to the courthouse.” They announced the move last week but will not say what prompted it.

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Gang leader sentenced to life in prison for 2010 fatal shooting

(CHICAGO) A Chicago gang leader of the Maniac Latin Disciples was sentenced to life in prison in connection with a 2010 fatal shooting.

Andrew Ruiz, 34, and co-defendant Edwin Carrasquillo, 24, were previously convicted for the first-degree murder of Adrian Gates, 24, according to a statement from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Ruiz–already serving a 99-year sentence from an previous murder conviction–was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Domenica Stephenson on Thursday. Carrasquillo is still awaiting sentencing.

According to prosecutors, on the evening of June 15, 2010, cousins Ruiz and Carrasquillo were driving a white minivan in the 3000 block of West Grand when they pulled up behind a parked car occupied by Gates and his girlfriend.

When Gates got out of the vehicle and began crossing the street, Carrasquillo walked up from behind and shot Gates in the back of the head, prosecutors said.

Carrasquillo then got back in the van and Ruiz drove them away from the scene. Chicago Police officers on patrol in the area later tracked down Ruiz and Carrasquillo about three miles from the location of the shooting.

There were multiple eye-witnesses to the shooting, and the murder weapon was recovered near the I-290 expressway after additional witnesses told authorities they saw someone throw a gun out of the passenger window of a van that matched the description of the vehicle used in the attack, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Ruiz was convicted and sentenced to 99 years for a fatal drive-by shooting on Halloween in 2009 that killed 23-year-old Manuel Roman and seriously injured another man.