In an unusual scene in court, Labar “Bro Man” Spann — reputed leader of the brutal West Side street gang the Four Corner Hustlers — complained to a federal judge Monday about one of his lawyers.
“I ain’t talked to him in seven months,” Spann, who could face the death penalty if convicted in a sweeping racketeering case that links him and two other members of the gang to six murders, said of attorney Steven Shobat. “This is my life on the line.”
Neither Shobat nor Spann’s other lawyer, Tod Urban, was in court for a pretrial status hearing on Monday, though prosecutors said they’ve been in contact with them in recent days.
They told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin that Shobat was sick and that Urban — who has represented Spann in most of his criminal cases over the past 20 years — had a family medical issue.
Durkin scheduled a hearing for next week to give Spann, 39, and his lawyers time to get on the same page.
• Reputed gang boss Labar Spann’s Cook County Jail reign of terror, Oct. 15, 2017 • Killing ‘Kato’: the story of Latin Kings boss Rudy Rangel Jr.’s murder, July 22, 2018
Spann could face the death penalty in the case along with co-defendants Tremayne “Scarface” Thompson and Juhwun Foster. A fourth man, Sammie “Sam Bug” Booker, also has been linked by prosecutors to the murders but would not face the death penalty if convicted.
The trial, expected to take about four months, is set for now for September 2019, with a total of 11 defendants.
But, raising the possibility there could be at least one other Four Corner Hustlers trial, lawyers for several of the seven other non-death penalty defendants in the case told Durkin they plan to ask him to split their cases from the trial of Spann and the others facing a possible death sentence.
The judge asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Salib, the lead prosecutor, if any more defendants or charges are going to be added. Salib told him he couldn’t say definitively. Durkin reminded him that could affect the trial date. “We are keeping that very much in mind,” Salib said.
Durkin told the attorneys he is making arrangements to hold the trial in a larger courtroom to accommodate the large number of defendants — either Chief Judge Ruben Castillo’s or the Dirksen’s “ceremonial courtroom.”
“That may be the only place we can fit everybody,” the judge said.
The defendants are accused of involvement ina wide-ranging conspiracydating to the mid-1990s that included the commission of six murders between 2000 and 2003, among them the killing of Latin Kings boss Rudy Rangel.
According to federal authorities, from the mid-1990s until the September 2017 indictment, the Four Corner Hustlers operated in West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park on the West Side and in the former LeClaire Courts public housing development on the Southwest Side, dealing drugs, robbing rivals, and using violence and intimidation to keep victims and witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement.