Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Detroit Gang Leader Sentenced to 346 Months in Prison for Planning Armed Robbery

A leader of a street gang that operated on the east side of Detroit was sentenced to 346 months in prison today for aiding and abetting an armed robbery of a Little Caesars pizza restaurant, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan and Special Agent in Charge Steven Bogdalek of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in Detroit.

Christopher LaJuan Tibbs, 38, of Detroit, was convicted on Aug. 29, 2014, of aiding and abetting an armed robbery after a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman of the Eastern District of Michigan.

The evidence at trial established that Tibbs, also known as “Chief Fatah,” was the leader of the Michigan branch of the Mafia Insane Vice Lords, a violent street gang that operated primarily on the east side of Detroit.  The Mafia Insane Vice Lords was a local faction of the national Vice Lord gang that originated in Chicago.  The evidence at trial further showed that, during his leadership of the Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Tibbs recruited and used young adults and children to commit crimes for the gang, and ordered the murder of a witness in connection with this case.

The evidence at trial showed that Tibbs helped plan an armed robbery of a Little Caesars restaurant in Redford, Michigan, in September 2013.  Tibbs “blessed” it as a mission for the gang, and sent four subordinate members to commit the crime.  As part of the planning for the robbery, Tibbs instructed the robbers to disable the cameras and phones in the Little Caesars.  Tibbs also told the robbers what to wear, had them diagram the Little Caesars, and instructed them how to use the gun during the robbery.  During the robbery, one of the robbers brandished a gun and forced the employees, including a pregnant woman, inside the store, where the robbers tore down the surveillance cameras.  At the robbers’ direction, the employees disabled the alarm and opened the safe.  Although he was not present for the robbery itself, Tibbs took a majority of the proceeds, some of which were spent on the gang.

This case marked the first time that the federal criminal street gang enhancement was charged in the Eastern District of Michigan.  Because the jury found that Tibbs committed the crime to advance the criminal activities of his gang, the maximum penalty for aiding and abetting the robbery was increased.

The case was investigated by the ATF, with assistance from the Redford Police Department, Detroit Police Department, and Chicago Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Gabel of the Eastern District of Michigan.

15-038
Updated January 13, 2015