Jury Sworn in Racketeering Trial

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

November 14, 2005

Opening statements begin Tuesday in the federal trial of an alleged Charlottesville street gang.

After two days of jury selection, 12 jurors and four alternates were sworn in around 4:30 Monday afternoon.

Jury selection took a little longer than most trials, in part, because a few potential jurors took the elevator down instead of up and ended up face to face with one of the defendants in handcuffs.

US Attorneys say Louis Antonio Bryant is the ring leader of the dangerous Charlottesville street gang Westside Crew or PJC.

His uncle, John Bryant, and Claiborne Maupin and Terry Suggs also face conspiracy charges.

Originally there were 17 men charged with shootings, murder, and kidnapping. Prosecutors say all linked to a drug ring that swept from Charlottesville to Philadelphia and North Carolina. Twelve of those defendants have since pleaded guilty.

"There's some [things] that will be admitted in trial. We will make references to various witnesses who will testify. We'll lay out the pattern of racketeering activity [that] we allege occurred in this case," explained Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy.

Those twelve men that pleaded guilty could provide some key testimony in the coming days. Other than that prosecutors have not revealed much about their case.

If convicted all four defendants face life in prison.

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