Goonie Boss gang members’ trial kicks off at Chicago federal courthouse, with prosecutor saying they ‘shattered real lives’

A 2019 indictment tied the gang to 10 murders committed across 30 months. Jurors considering the case will see evidence of brutal violence and hear from a parade of other gang members who agreed to cooperate with the feds.

SHARE Goonie Boss gang members’ trial kicks off at Chicago federal courthouse, with prosecutor saying they ‘shattered real lives’
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Romeo Blackman, a reputed leader of the Goonie Gang who’s accused of participating in seven of the 10 killings attributed to the gang in a racketeering case.

Chicago Police Department

The Goonie Boss street gang “shattered real lives” as it terrorized Englewood seeking money, fear and respect on the streets of Chicago, a federal prosecutor told a jury Monday.

And Romeo “O-Dog” Blackman “murdered his way to the top,” she said.

Now Blackman, 27, is on trial along with two other members of the South Side gang in a federal racketeering case expected to play out over the next several weeks at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. A 2019 indictment tied the gang to 10 murders committed across 30 months.

And since being locked up, federal prosecutors allege that Blackman, the gang’s alleged leader, offered someone $25,000 to have a witness killed.

Blackman, Terrance “T” Smith, 27, and Jolicious “Jo Jo” Turman, 31, are the latest alleged street gang members to face a sweeping racketeering trial in Chicago’s federal courthouse. A federal jury six months ago convicted Wicked Town street-gang members Donald “Lil’ Don” Lee and Torance “Blackie” Benson at the end of a trial that stretched over nine weeks.

A fourth member of the Goonie Boss gang, Nathaniel McElroy, pleaded guilty last week to a racketeering conspiracy rather than go to trial with Blackman, Smith and Turman.

Like in the Wicked Town trial, jurors considering the case against the alleged Goonie Boss gang members will see evidence of brutal violence and hear from a parade of other gang members who agreed to cooperate with the feds in exchange for immunity or a potential sentencing break.

Among them is a witness that some members of the gang believed to have been murdered “even to this very day,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paige Nutini told the jury Monday.

“He’s not dead,” Nutini said. “He will be here to testify.”

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Terrance Smith (left) and Jolicious Turman.

Sun-Times file

But defense attorneys cautioned jurors to treat those witnesses skeptically. Turman defense attorney Molly Armour told jurors those witnesses “have every reason to lie.”

And Blackman’s attorney, Patrick Blegen, urged jurors to hold the feds to their burden of proving the technical aspects of the crime for which the men face trial — racketeering. He said prosecutors won’t be able to prove that the Goonies existed for purposes like protecting territory or enriching its leaders, as alleged in the indictment.

Rather, he said the gang was created by others who sought to defend themselves in a dangerous neighborhood.

Blegen told jurors their job is “not to be overwhelmed by the violence.”

The Goonie Boss trial, like other street-gang trials, is playing out amid enhanced security at Chicago’s federal courthouse. Ahead of the trial, U.S. District Judge John Blakey denied a request from the defendants to attend the trial without leg shackles, though he said table skirts could be used to hide the shackles from jurors.

The judge cited allegations that Blackman sought to have a witness killed.

The feds say it happened March 24, 2021, while Blackman was being held in Chicago’s downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center. They said Blackman offered someone $25,000 to arrange for the killing. Rather than act on the offer, the feds say that person reported it to MCC personnel and law enforcement. That person also testified before a federal grand jury May 18, 2021, records show.

Blackman’s attorneys have characterized it as the “uncorroborated testimony of a jailhouse informant.”

The alleged murder victims of Blackman, Smith and Turman were Johnathon Johnson, killed on Jan. 22, 2014; Alonzo Williams, killed on March 21, 2014; Stanley Bobo, killed on Oct. 23, 2014; Krystal Jackson, killed on Nov. 19, 2014; Andre Donner, killed on Dec. 13, 2015; Davon Horace, killed on Jan. 15, 2016; Gerald Sias, killed on May 26, 2016; Ramal Hicks, killed on June 20, 2016; Gerald Bumper, killed on June 30, 2016; and Kenneth Whittaker, killed on July 1, 2016.

Nutini told jurors that some of the victims were killed “simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Others were targeted because gang members believed they had spoken to law enforcement.

The prosecutor said members of the gang liked to show off on social media, including with “Goonie Gang” T-shirts. She said they were also “obsessed with their guns.” She described a 2016 burglary in which members of the gang stole a Jeep and drove it into a gun store in Streator.

She said they stole 20 firearms from that store.

And then, she said, they brought those guns back into Englewood.

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