April 10, 2006
Two of the men facing trial in the Charlottesville Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Case entered pleas in federal court today. Federal prosecutors’ case against Louis Antonio Bryant just got a lot stronger Monday.
Bryant is accused of running a violent Charlottesville drug and crime ring.
He and three co-defendants faced life in prison on federal racketeering and conspiracy charges. They stood trial last November on those charges but the trial ended in a mistrial.
Now Bryant will be retried alone. On Monday, co-defendant Clay Maupin pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Co-defendant John Bryant also pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. He told the judge he was doing so "reluctantly." Co-defendant Terry Suggs pleaded guilty last week to distributing marijuana.
Prosecutors said Louis Antonio Bryant is the leader of a dangerous gang that committed murder, shootings and other violence related to drug sales over ten year period throughout Charlottesville.
More than a dozen alleged co-conspirators testified against Bryant at the first trial. It's not clear whether now his three former co-defendants will testify against him at the second trial.
The pleas let Maupin and J. Bryant avoid a life sentence. Now they only face up to 20 years in prison.
Suggs faces up to five years in prison.
The new RICO trial is scheduled for May 8, 2006.