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Jurors in Hobos gang trial begin deliberations as Christmas looms

(CHICAGO) After more than three months of testimony about drug dealing, brazen violence and cold-blooded killings, the fates of six alleged leaders of Chicago’s so-called “super gang” have been handed to a federal jury only days before Christmas, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Otlewski ended four days of closing arguments Wednesday by telling jurors how the elite and exclusive Hobos gang callously snuffed out lives to protect their organization, which rose from the now-demolished Robert Taylor Homes.

“They did it because they wanted power,” Otlewski said. “It’s that simple. Power on the streets.”

Most of the defendants on trial face life in prison if convicted of a racketeering conspiracy and other crimes outlined by the feds in a trial that kicked off shortly after Labor Day. The accused gang leaders, who include purported Hobo leader Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester and alleged Hobo assassin Paris “Poleroski” Poe, are charged in a 10-count indictment.

Jurors were handed the case two business days before Christmas, and they are not expected to deliberate Friday. It is not clear how, or if, the holiday will affect deliberations. The significant street-gang trial has played out in a year that saw Chicago surpass 700 homicides for the first time since 1998.

The jurors’ deliberations could be complicated by a series of special findings they will be asked to make.

Authorities have described the Hobos as a conglomerate or “all-star team of the worst of the worst” of Chicago’s street gangs. They say the gang brought a reign of terror down on the South and West sides for roughly 10 years, between 2004 and 2013.

Chester, who gets his nickname from a bone disease, took the stand during the lengthy trial. He denied that the Hobos gang existed and scoffed at the idea of a “crippled gang leader.” He said “Hobo” was the nickname of a friend from the Robert Taylor homes who was gunned down in 2000, and his “Hobo” tattoo is a tribute to his fallen companion.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Storino argued last week that even hostile government witnesses acknowledged the gang’s existence.

“The Hobos are real,” Storino said. “They’re sitting right here.”

While Chester is charged only with the racketeering conspiracy, Poe has been tied to the murders of two men who cooperated with law enforcement against the gang. Otlewski said Wednesday that the informants’ deaths are evidence of “a real rule” — don’t snitch on the Hobos.

The feds say Poe and alleged fellow Hobo Arnold Council murdered Wilbert Moore, a Chicago Police informant who was gunned down in January 2006. They also say Poe hunted down FBI informant Keith Daniels seven years later, executing Daniels in front of his girlfriend and two young children in April 2013.

“Hobos meant more than blood,” Otlewski said.

Another alleged Hobo, Gabriel Bush, has been tied to the September 2007 gang retaliation murder of Terrance Anderson. And co-defendant Derrick Vaughn has been connected to the killings that same month of Antonio “Beans” Bluitt and Gregory Neeley during a war between the Hobos and factions of the Black Disciples that summer.

Council has been charged with an additional gun crime, and the counts against his fellow alleged gang member, William Ford, also revolve around drugs and guns.

— Chicago Sun-Times