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Hobos cousin testifies for defense, faces off with prosecutor

(CHICAGO) A cousin of alleged Hobos leader Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester took the witness stand Tuesday as Chester and five other allegedly high-ranking gang members set out to defend themselves in a federal racketeering trial that has already lasted 12 weeks.

But Walter Binion, a former Black Disciple, then found himself eye-to-eye with a federal prosecutor years after dodging a grand jury subpoena, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The feds rested their case Monday against Chester and the other alleged Hobo leaders who have been connected to nine murders and a 10-year wave of terror on the South and West sides. The six defendants are now laying out their defense. They are accused of leading a gang described by authorities as a conglomerate, or an “all-star team of the worst of the worst” of Chicago’s street gangs.

Chester has been named by the feds as the gang’s undisputed leader. But Tuesday, Binion testified that he saw Chester “daily” between 2007 and 2011 and never knew him to even be a member of the Hobos. Binion also said the term “Hobo” actually referred to a deceased friend of Chester.

Binion said Chester spent two months in a hospital — half of it unconscious — after being shot in 2007. That meant he would have been largely incapacitated around the time of a war between the Hobos’ Dirty Low faction and the Fifth Ward Black Disciples and New Town Black Disciples. Binion also testified that he was handcuffed to a rail at the Homan Square police facility, where he said he was taken against his will, after authorities stopped him and Chester in October 2008.

However, Binion’s memory turned foggy when he was cross-examined by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Otlewski. He acknowledged that he dodged a grand jury subpoena in 2013, but he struggled to remember exactly how he met other high-ranking Hobos on trial, including Arnold Council, Paris Poe, Gabriel Bush and William Ford.

Binion testified that he never met FBI informant Keith Daniels but saw Chester meet with him once. Daniels was gunned down in April 2013, allegedly for cooperating with the feds against the Hobos.

Finally, Binion testified emphatically that he never sent money to another one of his imprisoned cousins, Gary Chester, who was sentenced to 12 years in 2015 for his role with the Hobos.

That prompted Otlewski to remind Binion that jails and prisons “keep records.”