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3 convicted in Minnesota Indian gang trial

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm •  Published: March 19, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Three alleged members of a violent American Indian gang known for terrorizing people in the Upper Midwest were convicted Tuesday in what authorities called one of the largest gang cases to come out of Indian Country.

An alleged leader of the Native Mob, 34-year-old Wakinyon Wakan McArthur, was found guilty on several charges including the most serious one he faced, racketeering conspiracy. But he was acquitted on an attempted murder charge that stemmed from the shooting of another man that prosecutors said McArthur ordered.

Two alleged gang "soldiers" — Anthony Francis Cree, 26, and William Earl Morris, 25 — were both convicted of attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in addition to other charges. Morris was the only defendant cleared of racketeering, a charge often used by prosecutors to target mobsters and organized crime.

A sentencing date has not yet been set, but all three men face a maximum of between 20 years and life in prison, according to the U.S. attorney's office. The men were the only defendants who didn't accept plea deals after 25 people were originally charged in a 57-count indictment.

Prosecutors said the case was important not only because of its size, but because the racketeering charge is a tool rarely used against gangs — indicating the case was an attempt to take down the entire enterprise.

"The verdicts reflect the seriousness of the crimes that were being committed by the Native Mob, which includes not only drug trafficking, but discharging of firearms at innocent people, and trafficking firearms, and basically wreaking havoc through communities throughout the state of Minnesota," Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said after the verdicts were read.

Winter said authorities have "conservative confidence" that they put a serious dent in the Native Mob but that investigations will continue.

Defense attorneys had said the government's case was overblown, and that while gang members may have committed individual crimes, there was no evidence to support racketeering charges alleging the trio was part of a large, organized criminal group.

McArthur's attorney, Frederick Goetz, said his client's acquittal for attempted murder indicates the jury recognized the three defendants' culpabilities varied.

"It was a mixed result for a mixed verdict," Goetz said, adding that he would likely appeal.

Cree's attorney, John Brink, said he would raise the issue of inconsistent verdicts on appeal.

Morris' attorney, Tom Schiah, cited the same issue but added that he was glad Morris was acquitted of the racketeering charge. Still, Schiah acknowledged his client was "looking at a boatload of time."

The 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment called the Native Mob one of the largest and most violent American Indian gangs in the U.S., most active in Minnesota and Wisconsin but also in Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota. It is made up of mostly American Indian men and boys, and started in Minneapolis in the 1990s as members fought for turf to deal drugs. The Native Mob is also active in prison.

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