Jury Convicts More Gangster Disciples July 16, 1997

IPSN July 16, 1997
Meanwhile, a Corrections Task Force Cites a Decline in Gang Influence at State Prisons. Fact or Fiction?

Another day, another trial victory for U.S. Attorney Jim Burns, whose seemingly effortless campaign to destroy Larry Hoover’s Gangster Disciple “pyramid of power,” netted 11 new convictions in round three of a two-year-long prosecution aimed against Chicago’s largest and most lethal street gang.

Thirty-three G.D.s pled guilty or have been convicted of drug conspiracy or drug possession charges since indictments were returned against Hoover and 38 of his cohorts in August, 1995. It is an impressive record of accomplishment – Burns has gone about his work methodically, and without the kind of pre-trial fanfare and publicity his predecessors in the U.S. Attorney’s office seemed to thrive on.

Thus far, Operation Silver Shovel has netted 13 indictments including five aldermen or former aldermen with more certain to come. Gangsters, politicians, influence peddlers and businessmen…Burns has gone after them all with impunity. it has been many years since we have seen so much activity emanating out of 219 S. Dearborn St. in so short a time frame.

Jury selection in the third phase of the Hoover trial began on March 26; opening statements were delivered April 8 in the federal courtroom of U.S. District Judge George W. Lindberg. Following nine days of deliberation, a verdict was returned on July 2.

Government prosecutors struck hard against the top rungs of Larry Hoover’s upper echelon, delivering a knockout punch that is certain to cripple street operations, at least for the interim, or until Hoover’s fragmented cadre of leadership can regroup.

Two self-styled Gangster Disciple “governors” were convicted in the third trial, including Cedric Parks, a.k.a “Governor Fool,” who supervised a South Side territory that extended from 107th Street south to 127th Street between Halsted and Wentworth. Parks’ area of domain is known as the “Wild Hundreds.”

The feds played back secretly recorded telephone calls that revealed the span of his control over drug operations. Parks’ wife Angela was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges, but the Assistant Governor in the “Wild Hundreds,” Clarence “Wood” Haywood, 33, who oversaw the activities of 1,193 active G.D. members in his zone, was convicted.

James “King” Yates, whose territory included south suburban Calumet City, Harvey, Dixmoor, and Dolton testified in his own defense but was found guilty.

“Those three [Haywood, Parks, and Yates] were also convicted for running a continuing criminal enterprise,” explained Randall Samborn, press spokesman for the U.S. Attorney. “All of the 39 defendants were charged in the same identical conspiracy and were divided into three separate groups.”

Others who were found guilty of drug conspiracy were four Gangster Disciple “regents”: Harold “Lil Herron” Jackson; Kevin “K-Dog” Williams; Dion “Knuckles” Lewis, 30; Jathel “Bald Head” Garrett, 25: Derrick “Boobie” Mallett, an assistant regent; James “J.D.” Doty, assistant treasurer; Richard “Richie” Wash, enforcer; and Michelle Gaines.

Two other men, Delano “Trouble” Finch and Timothy Nettles pled guilty and testified as government witnesses.

Throughout the trial, the prosecution team successfully demonstrated a pattern of criminal behavior dating back more than 25 years, to the early 1970s.

Three indicted G.D.s including Jeffrey “Rahim” Hatcher remain fugitives from justice. Two others, Darryl “Pops” Johnson and Quan “Q” Ray, await trial on a charge of murdering two witnesses. It is expected that their trials will commence sometime in September.

The names of these defendants are probably not familiar to city and suburban residents unaffected by the scourge of street gangs. The harm that the gangs do for the most part is still confined to inner-city neighborhoods torn apart by crime, drug abuse, high unemployment, and a myriad of complex and historic social problems that have persisted for decades. But as time goes by the gangs – this new organized crime – will continue to fan outward into the so-called crime free areas. It is already happening.

Long-term solutions to the problematic issues that spawn the rise of gangs and drug use are slow in coming. Warehousing gang members in prisons has created its own sub-culture that has actually worked to the benefit of the gang, evidenced by Larry Hoover’s control of the G.D.s from Stateville and the Vienna facility.

After months of study and careful evaluation, a blue-ribbon panel headed by Anthony Travisono, former executive director of the American Correctional Association, recently concluded that Illinois prisons are much more secure these days, and free of gang control that has historically plagued the Department of Corrections in the last two decades. The release of this report ironically coincides with the conviction of the 11 G.D.s in Judge Lindberg’s Chicago courtroom.

The surprising conclusions must come as welcome relief to Illinois Department of Corrections Director Odie Washington, whose office was rocked with the embarrassing Richard Speck video showing the mass murderer living the high life at state expense, but the findings are at odds with a consensus of opinion expressed by state lawmakers and skeptics who believe the gangs still call the shots, and the good times roll on.

The Travisono committee describes the Illinois prison system as being among the top 10 to 15 in the country, and it encourages the construction of a “supermax” prison to isolate and house the most dangerous inmates. With today’s dwindling tax base and voter opposition to funding new tax increases, it is unlikely that the General Assembly will sign off on such a proposal. It would cost $95 million to build each new maximum security prison and another $25 million a year to maintain the facility.

New and creative solutions – short of early release of inmates or the increasing popular support for the privatization of the corrections “industry” – must be put forth.

At this point the notable victories won in a court of law are negated on the back end if the skeptics are proven correct, and the prisons remain cesspools of gang corruption.