As the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club reached the corner of North Villere and Frenchmen streets at its annual Mother's Day second line in 2013, a gunman sprayed bullets from a 9 mm handgun into the crowd, hitting 19 people. Another person was trampled.
That shooting spurred a federal investigation involving drug trafficking, racketeering and other gun violence among members of the 7th Ward's Frenchmen and Derbigny, or FnD, gang. Shooters Akein Scott and his brother, Shawn Scott, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Sept. 9, along with Stanley Scott, to charges stemming from a multi-count federal indictment involving nine people. They will be sentenced in January (see Commentary, p. 12).
U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle said he was unsure whether he would sentence them to the minimum (20 years), maximum (life) or "something in between" the sentencing guidelines. "Frankly, I don't know," he said. In his sentencing, Lemelle said he will consider the Scotts' personal and criminal histories, the "seriousness of the crimes" and recidivist behaviors. (Akein and Shawn Scott previously had been charged with gun and drug charges.) Lemelle also requested a pre-sentencing report to investigate the defendants' criminal and personal histories.
The multi-count indictment alleges heroin and crack cocaine trafficking and links the shootings to gang activity and racketeering beginning in 2006. The RICO conspiracy counts allege that the Scotts worked together to commit crimes, and not only knew of the gang's activities but also agreed to be a part of them. There is no minimum sentence for the RICO counts; the maximum penalty is life in prison. Akein and Shawn Scott's older brother Travis Scott, alleged to be the gang's ringleader, has been accused of threatening witnesses and is the last defendant in the federal indictment awaiting trial.
The case initially began in state court for attempted murder charges, but U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced a superseding indictment last year invol-ving city, state and federal authorities. On Sept. 5, Mayor Mitch Landrieu praised the work of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit that led to the Scotts' arrests and indictments. Since 2012, that unit's work has led to the indictments of 106 people involved with 11 gangs.