Two Chicago men became the fifth and sixth members of the violent “Hobos” street gang to be sentenced to life in prison on federal racketeering charges.
The Hobos were a criminal enterprise in Chicago that dealt narcotics, robbed from other drug dealers, retaliated against rival gangs, and violently prevented witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement. For nearly a decade the gang committed murders, attempted murders and robberies, primarily on the city’s south and west sides. All ten Hobos charged in the federal investigation were either convicted by a jury or pleaded guilty prior to trial. An eleventh Hobo died shortly before charges were brought.
DERRICK VAUGHN and WILLIAM FORD became the fifth and sixth members of the gang to receive life sentences. Three others previously received sentences ranging from seven to 40 years in prison. One defendant, RODNEY JONES, cooperated with the government and will be sentenced later this year.
The sentencings were announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Eddie T. Johnson, Chicago Police Superintendent; and Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Secretary of State Police provided assistance.
Federal, state and local authorities uncovered the gang activity through an extensive investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI Chicago Safe Streets Gang Unit. The Task Forces have been responsible for disrupting some of the Chicago area’s most sophisticated drug-trafficking organizations.
Evidence at the 15-week trial last year revealed that the Hobos were comprised of former members of other gangs that were once rivals. The Hobos allied together in order to more profitably distribute narcotics and establish control of territories on the south and west sides of Chicago. The Hobos were violent and ruthless, often using high-powered guns and assault rifles. From 2004 to 2013 the Hobos engaged in narcotics trafficking, home invasions and armed robberies, often of rival drug dealers. Members of the gang shared the wealth with each other, buying luxury items and taking trips to Hawaii and Florida.
In addition to the sentencings of Ford and Derrick Vaughn, U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. previously sentenced four other Hobos to life in prison on racketeering conspiracy charges: ARNOLD COUNCIL, PARIS POE, GABRIEL BUSH, and BYRON BROWN, all of Chicago. Judge Tharp previously sentenced GREGORY CHESTER, of Richton Park, to 40 years in prison; STANLEY VAUGHN, of Chicago, to 20 years in prison, which must be served consecutively to a 23-year prison term previously imposed in a separate case; and Gregory Chester’s cousin, GARY CHESTER, of Chicago, to seven years in prison.
The sentencing for Jones, of Chicago, is set for Nov. 20, 2017, before Judge Tharp. The eleventh Hobo, Byron Brown’s twin brother, BRANDON BROWN, was identified in the indictment as a coconspirator, but he died before the charges were brought.
Although the Hobos lacked a traditional hierarchy, Gregory Chester was recognized as its leader. When the Hobos learned that individuals were cooperating with law enforcement, the gang resorted to murder in order to prevent it. In 2006 Council and Poe fatally shot Wilbert Moore, whose cooperation with Chicago Police had led to state gun and drug charges against Council. In 2013 Poe shot and killed Keith Daniels after Daniels cooperated with the federal investigation that led to these convictions.
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