9 alleged gang members face murder, racketeering charges
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporter September 26, 2013 2:03PM
Acting U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro announces federal criminal charges Thursday against alleged leaders of a Chicago gang for engaging in a series of violent crimes. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:34AM
The Hobos — a super-violent Chicago street gang whose alleged crimes range from killing police informants to robbing NBA players — have been charged in a major federal racketeering case.
An indictment charged nine members of the gang in a conspiracy involving five murders, three robberies and other violent crimes, and the operation of drug markets on the South Side between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced Thursday.
Two of the defendants, Paris Poe and Arnold Council, allegedly killed Wilbert Moore in 2006 because he was cooperating with law enforcement authorities, according to the indictment.
Poe, 33, also is suspected of killing FBI informant Keith Daniels outside his south suburban home in April — just four days after alleged Hobos leader Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester was busted. Daniels set up the 36-year-old Chester for the feds, according to federal court documents.
Poe isn’t charged with Daniels’ murder, but Cook County prosecutors told a judge in July that he’s the key suspect.
“This is the final nail in the coffin for these guys,” said Nicholas Roti, chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Organized Crime Bureau. “They were at the top of the food chain for a long time.”
The Hobos street gang is composed of factions of the Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples gangs, officials said. The Hobos originated in the Robert Taylor Homes, the notorious public housing complex that was knocked down several years ago on the South Side.
“It was a conglomeration of some of the heaviest hitters in Chicago,” he said. “They were a very, very bad bunch of dudes.”
The Hobos intimidated other gangs into working with them, Roti said.
They were even suspected in a rash of holdups of NBA players, including robbing then-NBA star Antoine Walker of a $55,000 watch outside a near West Side restaurant in 2000, authorities said.
The federal racketeering case against the Hobos stemmed from an investigation by the Chicago Police, FBI and IRS. All of the defendants are in either federal or state custody, authorities said.
The Hobos aren’t a familiar name in Chicago’s pantheon of street gangs.
But earlier this year, the Chicago Sun-Times published several stories focusing on the gang after Daniels — the FBI informant — was gunned down in Dolton in front of his girlfriend and child.
Daniels, a drug dealer, started cooperating with the police after a 2011 gun arrest.
He helped the Chicago Police Department solve the high-profile murder of 13-year-old basketball phenom Darius “Bay Bay” Brown in 2011, court records show.
He also helped the FBI in their case against the Hobos.
On three occasions in 2011, he secretly recorded Hobos leader Gregory Chester and another Hobos member allegedly making large heroin deals.
In April, Chester was charged in a separate federal case and Daniels’ role as an informant was revealed in a court filing.
At the time, alleged Hobos enforcer Paris Poe was under house arrest on electronic monitoring. He was on parole for aggravated battery and robbery.
Poe cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and went on the lam, officials said. A few days later, on April 14, Poe allegedly murdered Daniels, Cook County prosecutors said.
Poe was captured on May 2 in Wisconsin. Since then, he’s been held in the Cook County Jail on an escape charge. The federal indictment announced Thursday doesn’t mention Daniels’ murder.
In a prepared statement, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) hailed the case against Poe and his fellow Hobos members.
“This type of cooperation between federal and state authorities to crush an offshoot of the Gangster Disciples is exactly why I am fighting for $19.5 million in federal funding to fight gangs of national significance,” Kirk said.
Acting U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro said the indictment represents the “first stage of this investigation.”
“My office has devoted the most significant part of its resources over the last 20 years to gang and drug cases, along with violence and firearms cases. Those folks who think we have somehow gone away and are focused only on the Blagojevich and Ryans of the world, they’re just not paying attention,” Shapiro said.
Contributing: Mitch Dudek