Federal prosecutors have “hundreds” of hours of wiretap recordings collected during the investigation of 11 men identified as members of the brutal Four Corner Hustlers street gang who were indicted in a sweeping racketeering and murder conspiracy in September.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Salib said at a court hearing Friday that the prosecution will share several kinds of “electronic evidence” with defense lawyers as part of the pretrial discovery process.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin asked, “Are there wiretaps?”
Salib said, yes, there are and that they were collected over a period of “several months.” Durkin asked whether prosecutors have “hundreds of hours” of tape, to which Salib replied: “Probably.”
The 11 defendants are accused of being involved in a wide-ranging conspiracy dating to the mid-1990s that includes the commission of six murders between 2000 and 2003.
Salib expressed concern about making the prosecution’s witness list available to the defendants, telling the judge he fears “attempts of intimidation and retaliation.”
Those charged include Labar “Bro Man” Spann, who’s accused of taking part in all six killings, including the fatal June 2003 shooting at a West Side barbershop of former Latin Kings boss Rudy “Kato” Rangel. His killing inspired “A ‘Yo Kato” by rapper DMX.
Charged with murder by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office in Rangel’s death, Spann was acquitted in state court but, in the federal indictment, he is again accused of killing Rangel.
Spann was one of seven defendants present in court Friday. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal weapons charges after shooting a gun at a firing range in Lyons and then bragging about it on Instagram, which could land him 70 years in prison.
He was also charged with obstruction of justice, accused of getting a companion, Ladonah Hampton, to tell a grand jury Spann never loaded or fired the gun, even though she initially told FBI agents he “might” have. Spann later texted Hampton, asking for a copy of her grand jury testimony.
In 2007, Spann was charged with harassing a witness while he was held at the Cook County Jail. He pleaded guilty.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that Spann has been accused in jail disciplinary complaints of making repeated threats to jail employees between 2003 and 2007 but received minimal punishment, in some cases because authorities didn’t act quickly enough on the complaints.
According to federal authorities, from the mid-1990s until this year, 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 their victims and any witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement.
The gang used police scanners to try to stay clear of investigations, conducted surveillance of their victims and used rental cars to cover their tracks, authorities say.