Closing arguments near in Four Corner Hustlers trial after accused chief spars with prosecutor
Labar ‘Bro Man’ Spann testified that ‘gangsters respect gangsters.’ Also: ‘If the feds pick you up, your career over with. You’ll never come home again.’
Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday in a lengthy federal street-gang trial after the lone defendant spent much of two days on the witness stand sharing his views on Chicago gang life with a group of jurors.
Labar “Bro Man” Spann testified Wednesday that “we got a code of the street, that gangsters respect gangsters.” He said, “It ain’t got nothing to do with fear” and added, “If I have words with you, I’m gonna come talk to you.”
He also said, “If the feds pick you up, your career over with. You’ll never come home again.”
The alleged chief of the Four Corner Hustlers — who insisted there “ain’t no such thing as no chief” — also testified that “it irritate me when somebody lie … it do something to my skin.”
“I look a person in the eye because I got no reason to lie,” Spann told a prosecutor. “I never belittle myself for you, the police or nobody.”
But that comment came after Spann testified that he lied repeatedly to judges when he pleaded guilty in earlier criminal cases, including a separate federal gun case in which he has yet to be sentenced.
“Listen, you can call it a lie,” Spann said. “When we get arrested, when you all put the cases on us … you all sit us in these jails for so long that we always plead guilty.”
Spann went back and forth with Assistant U.S. Attorney Kavitha Babu during cross-examination Wednesday, repeatedly telling the prosecutor to “listen” and to “get this right.” He sometimes gave one-word answers like “negative” or “true.”
Other times, he would answer at length, including when he said an associate acted “like a little girl,” and when he claimed he played games with an informant Spann knew to be wearing a wire.
“I’m rocking him to sleep the whole time,” Spann said.
Paralyzed in a June 1999 shooting, Spann testified from a wheelchair and sometimes wore glasses to read documents on the witness stand. His questioning began Tuesday. His defense attorneys rested their case later Wednesday afternoon, and prosecutors are expected to call just a few witnesses Thursday morning.
Spann has been on trial for racketeering since mid-September, and the trial is ending earlier than expected. Prosecutors had predicted it would last until mid-November. Now it appears the case will go to the jury early next week.
A 2017 indictment tied Spann and other members of the West Side street gang to six murders, including the June 2003 slaying of Latin Kings boss Rudy “Kato” Rangel. Spann denied claims related to the murders of Rangel and others while on the witness stand.
Spann insisted others who had come to court to testify against him had lied to the jury. And he accused prosecutors of playing games, too.
“You all did a lot of lying,” Spann said.