An indictment alleges that four individuals committed murder with a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime on April 22, 2007, in Columbus, Ohio.
Under federal law, the offenses charged in the indictment are punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It is alleged that the four defendants committed the murder for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing their position in the Short North Posse, an organization engaged in racketeering activity in Columbus and other parts of Ohio.
Murder, arson, other crimes
Various members of the Short North Posse formed subsets of the criminal organization, known as “Cut Throat Committee” and “Homicide Squad,” and engaged in murders, attempted murders, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, robbery, arson and other crimes.
“The Short North Posse enterprise had an informal structure where status and respect were acquired in a large part by the commission of acts of violence,” U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart said. “Bringing to justice criminal organizations like the Short North Posse that traffic drugs and use violence and intimidation to terrorize communities is one of our highest priorities. This indictment is yet another step in holding these individuals accountable.”
A federal grand jury has charged Robert D. Ledbetter, 35; Christopher A. Harris, 27; Rashad A. Liston, 25; and Deounte Ussury, 30, all formerly of Columbus, with murder and violent crimes.
Similar indictments in 2014
In June 2014 and October 2014, the grand jury returned similar indictments charging these four defendants and other members and associates of the Short North Posse with a host of crimes, including 13 murders.
The U.S. attorney’s office will request that the court join the new indictment with the previous indictments, so that all the offenses can be tried together in April 2016.
“Living a life of drugs and violent crime has its consequences from an arrest to sentencing,” Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said. “These defendants will have to pay a price, even eight years after their offenses, for destroying the lives of others. The Columbus Division of Police has and will continue to work diligently against gang activity.”
All of the defendants remain in custody.