No-snitch enforcer from ‘Killing Crew’ faces up to 30 years
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporter March 17, 2013 11:17PM
Updated: April 19, 2013 6:14AM
Rashod “Fat Man” Bethany was only 21 when he was busted in a federal drug case in 2006.
Young as he was, no one had a more fearsome reputation in his Far South Side neighborhood.
Bethany ran two drug houses that sold crack 24/7, 365 days a year, and he and his thugs, who dubbed themselves “The Killing Crew,” ruthlessly enforced a no-snitching code that kept witnesses from talking to the police.
No one was safe from his reign of terror — drug rivals, witnesses to his crimes, visitors to his crack houses, even his best drug sellers who slipped up, federal authorities say.
One witness summed up succinctly why people were terrified to testify against him.
“Everyone know that he a killer,” the witness told the feds, according to court records.
Such intimidation of witnesses is key to why only one-fourth of last year’s murders in Chicago were solved, police say.
And it’s one reason federal prosecutors are now seeking a 30-year sentence — the maximum — for Bethany. A sentencing hearing for him is expected to begin Monday.
“It took six years to assemble a group of witnesses with the intestinal fortitude to testify against him,” said Tom Ahern, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“One witness who spoke about one of his murders recanted his testimony — even denying he went before the grand jury — rather than risk retaliation from Bethany’s Killing Crew,” Ahern said.
Even his arrest in 2006 didn’t stop Bethany from making a veiled threat against witnesses in his case, officials allege.
“Just because you have a gun, that doesn’t mean you’re safe,” he allegedly told federal agents. “Everyone can be gotten, there’s always a time when you can be gotten.”
Bethany’s attorney, Beau Brindley, though, said his client suffered a terrible childhood, and is not beyond redemption.
He was a victim before he was born, when his mother, pregnant with him, took heroin and cocaine, Brindley wrote to the court.
Bethany grew up in a gang family. They taught him to bag marijuana when he was 7.
He was attending gang meetings at 10, the feds say. By 11, he had learned how to package cocaine.
What little formal education he had was marked with violence. Within one year, he had attacked six teachers, the feds says.
Violence bred violence.
He was shot in the back at 13, and his brother was paralyzed in a shooting at 14.
Brindley said his client should undergo mental treatment.
“His life can be salvaged,” Brindley wrote in a court filing, arguing that a sentence of 10 to 15 years would deter Bethany from returning to a life of crime.
As a young adult, Bethany graduated to running the Killing Crew faction of the Gangster Disciples.
He created a “zone of brutality” to guarantee the success of the crack business he ran out of two houses near 119th and Eggleston and 120th and Emerald, prosecutors said. Gang members call the neighborhood “Trigger Town.”
His drug crew sold more than 8 kilograms of crack cocaine in a 140-day period. Meanwhile, the crew was getting guns in Indiana from a “straw buyer,” someone with a clean record who was able to buy them legally, officials said.
At the time, shootings in Trigger Town were out of control — with 11 murders in 2004 and 2005. Now, though, with Bethany and his crew off the street, the area isn’t particularly violent, a top police official said.
The case against Bethany stemmed from an informant who was paid more than $11,000 to wear a wire. ATF and the Chicago Police ran the investigation.
Bethany pleaded guilty to participating in a drug conspiracy. He wasn’t charged with any violent acts — even though he and his crew were suspected in five murders and numerous beatings. But prosecutors are allowed to present evidence of the violence to argue for a stiffer prison sentence for him.
Prosecutors say Bethany once turned a pit bull on one of his workers for losing $150 of cocaine. He laughed when the dog’s teeth tore into the man, officials said. Bethany should know how much a pit bull attack can hurt. He was attacked by one as a child, requiring 60 stitches.
He also allegedly ordered one associate, Ricky Long, to kill a witness who saw Bethany and others fire at men in the neighborhood, ATF Agent Christopher Labno said in an affidavit.
Long allegedly told the woman he was ordered to kill her “because you are going to tell the police.” The woman, who was shot in the face, survived and is expected to testify against Bethany.
Long was convicted of aggravated battery and is one of Bethany’s co-defendants in the federal drug case.
Bethany and his crew are linked to the July 2003 murder of rival drug deal Shelton Golden; the May 2005 murder of street drug dealer Lavon Hough; the murder of Bethany’s drug supplier Robert Duffy in October 2005, the murder two months later of rival gang member Morris Taylor; and the murder the following month of another gang rival, Dante Dixon, prosecutors said. DNA tests indicated that blood found in Golden’s apartment matched Bethany’s, authorities said.
Police said Bethany could still face charges in the killings because there’s no statute of limitations for murder.
Witnesses to several of the killings told authorities they didn’t come forward to police immediately because they feared Bethany’s crew would find out and harm them, prosecutors said.
“They would enforce their no-snitch policy by showing up at the scene of their own shootings to intimidate the witnesses,” Ahern said.
“Bethany’s saying was ‘snitches get stitches.’ ”