COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The prosecution of a massive, organized crime case made its way into a Muscogee County courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
Extra security was in place with almost half of the 20 co-defendants appearing in front of Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters.
Prosecutors allege that the defendants were members of the 4MG – a hybrid Street game with ties to Gangster Disciples and Folk Nation.
They are being charged under a 116-count indictment that includes RICO charges. That is Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations – basically organized crime.
RICO involves a group of suspects who allegedly commit individual crimes for the benefit of a group and/or each other. In this case, authorities say the alleged crimes benefitted street gangs in an organized manner.
Here are the names and aliases of all the co-defendants who were indicted on Nov. 3, 2020: Reginald Jamal Jackson, aka El Dorado Red, aka Landlord; Kendrick Anthony Washington, aka King Kendrick; Dennis Lee Brown, Jr., aka 51; Jamal Colbar Head, aka Buddha Man; Marquis Lamar Johnson, aka Takeoff; Quantavius Marcel Pigler; Keyonna Latrice James; Alex Jamar Thompson, aka Pistol; Dontavis Devonte Matthews, aka Donravis Matthews, aka Dontavis Mathews, aka C-Ryder; Ricardo Deandra Williams, Sr., aka Rico; Bobby Tremain Williams, aka Dollar, aka CEO; Reginald Smith, aka Pig; Cedrick Lamar Dent, Jr.; Antonette Nicole Cage; Darious Jamal Robinson, aka D Man; Fredret Shamar Culliver, aka Fredo; Jimmy Chatman, IV, aka Jimmy Chapman; Tonisha Archibald, aka Queen, aka Phat Face; William Kadale Leverich, aka Snow, aka Snowman; Hykeem Lomax, aka Peso; Devon Shepherd, aka Man; and Alexander Jackson.
Because of the gang charges, Tuesday’s hearing created extraordinary security inside and outside the courtroom attached to the Muscogee County Jail.
There were about 50 Muscogee County deputies visible on the security detail.
The defendants are accused of engaging in murder, armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, arson, making false statements to officials and illegal drug activity.
Judge Bobby Peters is trying to push this case to trial early next year. But there are many obstacles ranging from attorneys withdrawing to the case being prosecuted by Lance Cross out of the Dekalb County DA’s office because Muscogee County DA Stacey Jackson was previously represented multiple co-defendants in other criminal cases.
At least nine of the defendants are being held in the Muscogee County Jail. Some are in state prison and others are out on bond.
A bench conference between Peters and the attorneys resembled a football huddle.
Tuesday, Peters took 11 of the co-defendants and said they would be tried independently of the others, hopefully in March or shortly thereafter.
The 11 defendants that Peters ordered severed from the original indictment and tried together are Reginald Jackson; Kendrick Washington; Dennis Brown; Jamal Head; Jimmy Chatman; Alexander Jackson; Fredette Culliver; Alex Thompson; Dontavis Matthews; Ricardo Williams; and Bobby Williams.
Columbus defense attorney Anthony Johnson is representing Kendrick Washington, who is facing 19 counts, including murder.
Reporter: “This case feels like the legal version of a 23-car wreck.”
Johnson: “It is. Well, you have 23 attorneys. That is really more than we have in our entire defense bar. So, we have a lot of people coming from Atlanta, some from Warner Robins, just different areas around. And, so you are talking about trying to have everybody all in the same room, all at the same time.”
Columbus defense attorney Shevon Thomas is representing Bobby Williams, who is facing a gang charge. Thomas took exception to comparing the case to a 23-car pileup.
“I don’t know how to respond to your description,” Thomas said. “I don’t think it’s accurate. There’s a car that just stood out there and blew their horn. The fact that he’s a car does not necessarily mean he will be implicated in a 23-man wreck because he blew his horn.”
A number of attorneys indicated that their clients would be taking guilty pleas. Peters said he wanted to do that before a trial starts. So, that could start as early as February.
The indictment was handed down in November 2020 by former District Attorney Julia Slater.
So, what exactly is a RICO charge?
RICO involves a group of suspects allegedly committing individual crimes for the benefit of a group and/or each other. In this case, authorities say the alleged crimes benefitted street gangs in an organized manner.