November 15, 2005
The federal case against four men accused of racketeering and conspiracy is beginning to reveal itself.
Opening statements and witness testimony began Tuesday in the trial of Louis Antonio Bryant, John Bryant, Clay Maupin and Terry Suggs.
Federal prosecutors say Louis Bryant is the leader of the dangerous street gang Westside Crew.
They told the jury today that this gang, also known as PJC, has run much of the drug trade in Charlottesville for the last ten years and they committed many acts of violence that go along with drug and gang activity.
Prosecutors told the jury there were shootings, murder, even a kidnapping that all revolved around this group and its conflicts with other Charlottesville neighborhood gangs.
One witness Tuesday fingered Louis Bryant as the man who supplied him and many others with drugs to sell on the streets of Charlottesville.
"We also called our first witness, a man named Detric Cabell, who is a member of this group. Who has PJC tattooed on his body. Who talked about the benefits of being a gang member and there will be other witnesses like Mr. Cabell who are members of this organization," said Heaphy.
This witness and former co-defendant made a plea agreement with prosecutors. One of four defense attorneys told the jury the only evidence the prosecution has is testimony like this, "from people who would do anything to see the light of day."
Twelve co-defendants have entered into plea agreements with the prosecution and may testify at this trial.
Louis Antonio Bryant is a rap artist. His rapper name is B-Stacks. The defense says he is a legitimate businessman. The prosecution played some of Bryant's lyrics in court Tuesday, evidence they say of his boasting about the crimes he's committed.
If convicted, these four men could face life in prison.