A long-awaited street-gang trial set to begin at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse later this summer is suddenly down to one defendant: Labar “Bro Man” Spann, the alleged chief of the murderous Four Corner Hustlers.
Court officials have for years been planning a monthslong racketeering trial for Spann, Tremayne “Trigga” Thompson and Juhwun Foster. But Thompson and Foster suddenly pleaded guilty Thursday to their roles in the West Side gang.
Spann still intends to go to trial, according to court records and comments from lawyers. The trial is set for Sept. 13 and comes as Chicago again struggles with street violence, a scenario reminiscent of the federal racketeering trial of the Hobos “super gang” five years ago.
A sweeping 2017 indictment tied the Four Corner Hustlers to six killings between 2000 and 2003. Prosecutors later tied the gang to three additional 2012 murders. A separate trial for other defendants in the case had been planned for 2019, but it was scuttled by a series of last-minute guilty pleas.
Spann, Thompson and Foster had been set to go on trial in September 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced court officials to put it off for another year. They wound up planning what might have been the most logistically challenging trial of the new era.
The trial had been set to take place in the Dirksen building’s 25th-floor ceremonial courtroom — its largest — with jurors in the gallery and one lawyer at each defense table to allow for social distancing, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin told lawyers in March.
He said that was the “only way we’re going to do it” and added, “we’ve done measurements.” It’s unclear yet how the new developments in the case will change those plans.
Spann, Thompson and Foster also potentially faced the death penalty at one point, but prosecutors took it off the table in April 2020.
Spann is accused in all six murders listed in the racketeering indictment, including the murder of Rudy “Kato” Rangel, who was a leader of the Latin Kings when he was fatally shot inside a barbershop in June 2003. Spann had previously been acquitted in state court in connection with the killing.
Thompson and Foster on Thursday each pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy and admitted their roles in, among other crimes, the April 2003 murders of George King and Willie Woods.
King’s murder followed a drug dispute with another crew that involved the shooting of Spann and the now-deceased Jasper Davidson, records and courtroom testimony show. Spann then allegedly ordered the Four Corner Hustlers to kill anyone working for the other crew so he could take over the drug territory.
On April 8, 2003, Thompson and Foster collected two firearms from a Four Corner Hustlers stash house and drove to the 3800 block of Jackson Boulevard, records show. They hopped out of the car, walked to the 3800 block of Adams and fatally shot King, who sold drugs there.
Meanwhile, someone hired Spann to kill Woods amid a drug dispute involving a member of the Traveling Vice Lords. On April 16, 2003, Thompson and Foster fatally shot Woods in the 1500 block of South Karlov on Spann’s orders, records show.
Thompson’s plea agreement calls for him to be sentenced to between 35 and 45 years in prison, though Durkin could give him credit for time he served in state custody. If Durkin declines to go along with those terms, Thompson may withdraw from the plea deal.
Foster reached a similar agreement, though his deal calls for him to be sentenced to between 30 and 40 years in prison.