Feds seek life sentence for former Hobos member linked to five killings

Federal prosecutors want a former member of the violent Hobos street gang to spend the rest of his life in prison, saying he agreed to cooperate with authorities then lied to try to implicate a co-defendant in one of the five slayings in which he participated.U.S....

Feds seek life sentence for former Hobos member linked to five killings

Federal prosecutors want a former member of the violent Hobos street gang to spend the rest of his life in prison, saying he agreed to cooperate with authorities then lied to try to implicate a co-defendant in one of the five slayings in which he participated.

U.S. attorneys recommended that Byron Brown, 32, serve two consecutive life sentences in prison after they discovered he lied in interviews with authorities and in his grand jury testimony during their federal racketeering investigation into the Hobos.

Brown is scheduled to be sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp.

Brown pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and murder in the aid of racketeering in 2014, admitting he committed three murders and was present at two others between 2007 and 2008. In exchange for his help, prosecutors initially agreed to recommend a sentence of 35 to 40 years in prison.

But Brown's false account of one of the 2008 murders negated what would have been a reduced sentence had he testified truthfully, federal authorities said in a court filing Friday. Brown admitted he had lied in a signed affidavit yet still tried to withdraw his guilty plea, citing ineffective counsel. A judge denied that motion.

"Byron Brown engaged in years of violent and dangerous crimes, wreaking havoc on the city of Chicago and leaving five families to mourn the loss of loved ones due to murders either at Byron Brown's hands or because of crimes in which he participated," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

Alleged Hobos gang leaders to go on trial in 9 Chicago-area killings Jason Meisner

The Hobos gang came calling for Keith Daniels on an April evening three years ago.

Daniels, a key witness in a drug trafficking case against the gang's feared leader, had been relocated by authorities to south suburban Dolton for his safety. But when the 27-year-old father pulled into his driveway...

The Hobos gang came calling for Keith Daniels on an April evening three years ago.

Daniels, a key witness in a drug trafficking case against the gang's feared leader, had been relocated by authorities to south suburban Dolton for his safety. But when the 27-year-old father pulled into his driveway...

(Jason Meisner)

Prosecutors called the five slayings linked to Brown "ruthless" and "cold-blooded."

In December 2007, he ordered Eddie Moss Jr., a semipro basketball player he mistook for a rival, to lie face-down on the ground before fatally shooting him 10 times in front of his home.

In January 2008, Brown and two gang members, including his now-deceased twin brother, held a woman at gunpoint to gain entry to an apartment, prosecutors said. Once inside, one of the men fatally shot Larry Tucker in front of the woman's two young children before the gang members fled with narcotics and other valuables.

In May 2008, Brown shot Kenneth Mosby after he and his brother had gone to the South Side to find a drug dealer to rob, prosecutors said. Days later, Brown and fellow Hobos member Rodney Jones robbed Daniel Dupree inside his car. Dupree resisted, and Brown shot Dupree in the chest, prosecutors said.

While fleeing the scene of a robbery in July 2008, Brown rode with two other gang members in a getaway car that was crashed into another vehicle, killing its driver, Tommye Ruth Freeman.

Gang member charged in killing of informant Annie Sweeney

Federal authorities continued their crackdown on the Hobos, a street gang they have called especially violent, by charging one gang leader with a second killing of a government informant and adding a 10th defendant to the pending indictment.

Paris Poe, who has a tattoo reading “Chief Hobo,” was...

Federal authorities continued their crackdown on the Hobos, a street gang they have called especially violent, by charging one gang leader with a second killing of a government informant and adding a 10th defendant to the pending indictment.

Paris Poe, who has a tattoo reading “Chief Hobo,” was...

(Annie Sweeney)

"Byron Brown did not care if he murdered innocent people like Eddie Moss, Jr., or that he imperiled the life of Tommye Ruth Freeman while fleeing from the police," prosecutors wrote. "What mattered to Byron Brown was his own self-preservation and his own self-aggrandizement through his affiliation and association with the Hobos."

It was with the killing of Tucker where prosecutors say Brown gave false testimony, though prosecutors did not specify which co-defendant Brown wrongly accused.

Federal prosecutors have said the Hobos commanded a widespread narcotics empire on the city's South and West sides, peddling marijuana, cocaine and heroin. They instilled fear in rival gangbangers with brazen acts of violence, including robbing drug dealers at gunpoint, kidnapping and torturing rivals, and even targeting a former NBA player for a stickup after he was spotted at a nightclub wearing a pricey necklace.

Prosecutors said Brown, who went by the name "B-Rupt," was an active member of the gang from 2004 until his July 2008 arrest for murder.

"Byron Brown self-identified with the Hobos and bragged how they were an All-Star team of gangsters," prosecutors wrote. "He relished in the access to high-powered guns, rental cars, and the lavish lifestyle that being part of a ruthless team of killers afforded him and the other Hobos. Byron Brown considered so incredibly important the street reputation that he had with the Hobos, and he was willing to go to great lengths — including murder — to protect and solidify that reputation. Criminal enterprises like the Hobos are deadly and they terrorize people in the City of Chicago, creating a culture of fear and death."

Federal authorities prosecuted several top members of the gang for racketeering conspiracy charges last year, alleging the gang committed eight murders over the course of a decade as well as a litany of other brazen crimes that left victims seriously wounded.

A jury convicted reputed Hobos leader Gregory "Bowlegs" Chester and alleged gang lieutenants Paris Poe, Arnold Council, Gabriel Bush, Derrick Vaughn and William Ford in January after a 15-week trial featuring hundreds of witnesses.

Those six defendants are scheduled to be sentenced June 23. Four face mandatory life sentences while two others face the possibility of life imprisonment.

In addition to the recommending of a life sentence for Brown, prosecutors are also asking that he be ordered to pay nearly $31,000 in restitution for three of the murder victims' families for funeral expenses.

tbriscoe@chicagotribune.com

@_tonybriscoe

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.

RELATED NEWS