Published on June 19th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
Black Souls gang leaders ordered held without bail
Amid heavy courthouse security, the alleged top leaders of one of Chicago’s most violent street gangs, the Black Souls, were ordered held without bail today on sweeping racketeering charges that allege they controlled their West Side drug empire through intimidation, kidnappings, shootings and murder dating back to the 1990s.
Prosecutors alleged in charges unsealed Thursday that Cornel Dawson, 38, the reputed chief of the Black Souls gang, and Teron Odum, 34, described by prosecutors as Dawson’s second in command, protected an $11 million-a-year drug operation with violence. In all, 23 members of the gang have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, while 18 more face state drug or weapons charges, authorities said.
Dawson, of the 2700 block of West Washington Street, sauntered into bond court in the Leighton Criminal Court Building in a black hooded sweatshirt and kept his thumbs looped in his jeans. His court-appointed attorney said Dawson, the father of five children, is engaged to be married and supports his family by working as a barber.
Moments later, the same attorney was appointed to represent Odum, who said he also works as a barber.
Judge Israel Desierto ordered both held without bail, citing the evidence contained in the 78-page affidavit unsealed Thursday by prosecutors. Both face up to mandatory life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
Several other alleged high-ranking members of the Black Souls who appeared for bond hearings claimed to support themselves through jobs ranging from shining shoes to stocking soft drinks for a beverage company.
The arrests mark the first prosecution by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office under the state RICO law that took effect last June and was modeled after the 1970 federal racketeering statute originally designed to go after mobsters. By classifying a gang as a criminal enterprise, the law allows authorities to hold leaders responsible for the gang’s actions even if they are insulated from a particular crime such as a murder or drug deal.
The law carries stiff penalties for those convicted of participating in a criminal enterprise — from a mandatory 7- to 30-year prison term for racketeering conspiracy up to life in prison without parole for those convicted of murder under the statute.
Source: chicagotribune.com “Black Souls gang leaders ordered held without bail,” June 19, 2013.