Four Short North Posse Members Charged with Murder
COLUMBUS, OH—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, Ohio, with murder and violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity in an indictment returned in Columbus, Ohio.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Donald Soranno, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the indictment, which was returned today.
The indictment alleges that the defendants committed murder with a firearm during and in relation to 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 enterprise engaged in racketeering activity in Columbus and other parts of Ohio. 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 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.”
In June 2014 and October 2014, respectively, 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 in aid of racketeering activity, including 13 murders. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will formally request that the federal district 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 to diligently against gang activity.”
All of the defendants remain in custody.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by law enforcement and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David DeVillers and Kevin Kelley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Martinez, as well as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Lowe with Franklin County Prosecutor O’Brien’s Office, who are prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.