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Hobo gang member accused in 2 drive-bys won’t take part in trial

Sun-Times file photo

An admitted member of the so-called Hobos “super gang” has been removed from this week’s high-profile trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. agreed Tuesday to sever Stanley “Smiley” Vaughn, 39, from the trial getting underway this week. Despite his guilty plea last month, Vaughn had been scheduled to go on trial with the other defendants to determine whether he is eligible for a life prison sentence, records show.

Instead, Tharp ruled Vaughn will have to go on trial alone at another time.

Federal prosecutors have accused Vaughn of acting as the driver in two drive-by shootings, one of which ended fatally, during a 2007 war between the Hobos’ Dirty Low faction and the Fifth Ward Black Disciples and New Town Black Disciples. The war allegedly erupted after the Fifth Ward Black Disciples encroached on the Dirty Low’s drug trafficking territory at 47th and Vincennes, and after someone shot alleged Hobo leader Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester that summer.

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Hobos “super gang” tied to 9 murders; lengthy trial to begin

Vaughn allegedly drove a rental car during a June 27, 2007, attempted murder in which Gabriel Bush allegedly opened fire with a pistol “that shoots the equivalent of rifle rounds” on a New Town Black Disciples associate walking into a daycare. The shooting left the target with nerve damage and a limp. Then, on Sept. 2, 2007, Vaughn allegedly drove one of four cars used to hunt down and kill New Town Black Disciple leader Antonio “Beans” Bluitt and associate Gregory “Slappo” Neeley after a funeral.

The Hobos allegedly celebrated the double murder that night at the downtown Swissotel.

Vaughn admitted last month only that he associated with the Hobos and was involved in drug dealing at 47th and Vincennes. His lawyer, Josh Herman, has insisted his client should face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Meanwhile, jury selection is set to begin Wednesday morning for the remaining six alleged Hobos, including Chester and Bush. The trial could last months. Tharp has agreed to keep jurors anonymous, and a metal detector has been set up outside his 14th-floor courtroom. Opening statements will take place no earlier than Thursday, the judge said.

Tharp has declined to shackle the alleged Hobo gang members during the trial, but he said in court Tuesday that he would not hesitate to revisit that ruling.

The Hobos, a so-called “conglomerate” of Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and other gangs, allegedly terrorized Chicago’s South and West sides between 2004 and 2013. They are accused of committing nine murders, including the slayings of federal informant Keith Daniels and Chicago police informant Wilbert Moore.