Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 named in new racketeering indictment against suspected 7th Ward gang

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

CannizzaroPresser.jpg

For the second time since last week, the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office today unveiled an indictment under a severe but little-used state racketeering law. In a press conference, DA Leon Cannizzaro said 10 suspected members of an alleged 7th Ward drug gang "Baka 7 Town," will face racketeering charges, which carry a maximum 50 year prison sentence.

A grand jury handed down the indictment last week, but it was sealed until this week, Cannizzaro said in a press conference today, because most of the suspects were still at large. A separate racketeering case, against nine alleged members of a 9th Ward group, the "Cut-Throat-City Snake Gang" was announced on Thursday.

The charges came after investigations that involved the New Orleans Police Department, the District Attorney's Office and federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Cannizzaro said.

Under the racketeering charges state prosecutors will not be limited to proving individual criminal acts.

"We get to give the entire picture of all these individuals and the connections between them," Cannizzaro said.

(More after the jump)

Racketeering cases against organized criminal enterprises are fairly common under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, but such state cases are rare, said ATF Special Agent Phil Durham, who heads the New Orleans field office and worked on the Baka 7 Town case.

Ronald Expose
  • Ronald Expose
Shawn Nickerson
  • Shawn Nickerson

"Normally these cases would go to federal court," Durham said. He said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten was given an opportunity to take on the Baka 7 Town case. However, because of the state's tough sentencing laws — the 50-year maximum for racketeering plus habitual offender enhancements that could add decades for several of the suspects if convicted — he said he felt it was better suited to state court.

The Baka 7 Town suspects: Kerry Brown, Jontrice Brown, Wayne Brown Jr., Kelvin Harrison, Kevin Harrison, Jacoby Jason, Eric Masters, Jason Masters, Shawn Nickerson and Frank Sears.

Nickerson is currently facing separate charges for second degree murder.

The CTC suspects: Bruce Carter, Bilal Denley, Corey Expose, Ronald Expose, Theodore Keys III, Reginald LaFrance, Walter Thomas Jr., Nikkisha Warren and Tienekia Washington.

Jason, Sears, Carter, Keys, Warren, Washington, Kelvin Harrison, Wayne Brown, Eric Masters, were still at large as of today's press conference. Crimestoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information as to their whereabouts.

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