CHICAGO — A federal jury in Chicago on Monday convicted a notorious gang boss who, prosecutors said, used ruthless violence and fear to profit off the West Side drug trade for 20 years.
Four years after he and 10 others were charged in a sweeping federal racketeering indictment, jurors returned a unanimous guilty against Labar “Bro Man” Spann, the leader of crew known as “The Outlaws,” a group born out of the larger Four Corner Hustlers gang.
“He is a smart, ruthless and manipulative gang leader,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Storino said during the closing arguments of the eight-week trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. “He is a person who kills, he robs, he extorts and he intimidates others all in furtherance of his gang, the Four Corner Hustlers, and he has done it for over two decades.”
Spann was found guilty of all four counts against him: racketeering conspiracy, extortion and two other counts of murder in the aid of racketeering, which carry a minimum life sentence. His sentencing was scheduled for March 2022.
The charges linked Spann to six killings between 2000 and 2003. Jurors, however, found that Spann was not responsible for two of the murders included in the charges: those of Carlos Caldwell and Levar Smith, both of which occurred in 2000.
Spann — who survived at least two shootings, including one that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 1999 — and the others were charged in September 2017, though all of his co-defendants pleaded guilty before trial. Among them was Sammie Booker, a gang enforcer who cooperated with prosecutors and said that he helped carry out several murders at Spann’s direction.
Testifying in his own defense last month, Spann freely admitted to carrying out “licks” — slang for robberies — and said that, at one point, he was known as “The Lick King.” Spann also said that he would sometimes sell stolen narcotics to other West Side drug dealers.
But he forcefully denied any involvement in the six murders, the most high-profile of which was the June 2003 slaying of Latin Kings boss Rudy “Kato” Rangel, Jr. in a West Side barbershop.
He also rejected the idea that he was the boss of anything, let alone the entire Four Corner Hustlers gang, despite a mountain of law enforcement records that detail his involvement and ascension within the gang since the mid-1990s, even during his long stints in jail. Instead, Spann said, he was an equal of the others who also claimed an association with the Outlaws.
“It ain’t no such thing as the Four Corner Hustlers, I’m steady tellin’ you that,” Spann — who has his nickname “Bro Man” tattooed on his chest — testified last month, adding that he renounced any gang affiliations while in the Cook County Jail from 2003 to 2009.
Prosecutors worked to undercut that argument by playing a video clip of Spann speaking with a federal agent after he was arrested in 2015. During that interview, Spann lamented the apparent lack of structure among younger gang members, and said he exerted far more control over his underlings, saying:
“If I was on some old Bro Man s—, on Jesus Christ, the West Side would be hot, ‘cuz I would f— every motherf—– up that ain’t righteous,” Spann said. “If I was on some Bro Man s—, like 10 years ago, and the s— these n—— doin’, I would get on they mother—— ass. You wanna be a gangster? I’mma show you a gangster.”
Along with Rangel, prosecutors said Spann was involved in the murders of Levar Smith, Maximillion McDaniel and Carlos Caldwell — all occurring in 2000 — as well as the 2003 killings of George King and Willie “Foots” Woods, a leader of the Black Souls street gang.
Spann was taken into custody in 2015 after he fired a gun at a suburban gun shop and posted a series of videos to Instagram bragging about it. With his prior felony convictions, Spann was barred from using firearms.
He pleaded guilty in that case in that case in summer 2017, telling U.S. District Judge John Tharp: “I made the mistake. Ain’t nobody force me to do it.”
Spann has yet to be sentenced in that case. However, testifying in his defense last month, Spann said that his guilty plea was a lie.
“I done lied in a couple cases,” he said. “We plead guilty to a lot of stuff that we shouldn’t plead guilty to.”