Federal prosecutors are asking the judge in the Four Corner Hustlers racketeering case to keep the identities of jurors anonymous, citing witness intimidation.
“The Four Corner Hustlers have the capacity to harm jurors, demonstrated by their alleged harm of others, and a grand jury has found probable cause that the Four Corner Hustlers actually interfered with the judicial process by committing murder, obstruction of justice and extortion,” prosecutors say in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
“The evidence in this case shows that the Four Corner Hustlers are willing to interfere violently in the judicial process by, among other things, trying to shoot and kill witnesses,” they wrote.
Prosecutors cited 12 high-profile cases in the Northern District of Illinois since 1990 in which jurors’ names have been kept secret to keep them safe. They include the “Operation Family Secrets” case that crippled the Chicago Outfit, a racketeering case against dozens of members of the Jeff Fort-founded El Rukns street gang and the prosecution of Larry Hoover, founder of the Gangster Disciples.
Eleven members of the Four Corner Hustlers were indicted in September 2017. Prosecutors have linked the Chicago gang to nine killings between 2000 and 2012, in addition to extortion, drug-trafficking and robberies, mostly on the West Side and in the former LeClaire Courts public housing complex on the Southwest Side.
Eight of those 11 are set to face trial in mid-September. Three others — reputed gang leader Labar “Bro Man” Spann, Tremayne Thompson and Juhwun Foster, all potentially facing the death penalty if convicted — are scheduled to go to trial a year later.
Prosecutors also are citing pretrial news coverage as a reason they want to take extra steps to ensure jurors’ safety.
They filed the motion seeking an anonymous jury on Friday, citing news stories including one posted by the Chicago Sun-Times that day that reported Sammie Booker — a longtime enforcer for Spann, according to federal authorities — is one of three defendants cooperating with investigators. Prosecutors tied Booker to five killings between 2000 and 2003 but aren’t seeking the death penalty in his case.
“The arrests and indictments in this case received publicity in the local media and the media has continued to cover this case closely,” prosecutors wrote. “This type and level of press coverage enhances the possibility that the jurors’ names would become public and expose them to intimidation and harassment.”
In another move, the prosecution filing that linked the gang to more killings and revealed that three defendants are cooperating has been sealed and was no longer accessible to the public Monday.