Skip to main content
Press Release

Gang Leader Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Violent Racketeering-Related Crimes and Shooting at Federal Agents

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A leader of the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club, who was also a member of the Vice Lords street gang, was sentenced to 40 years in prison today for violent racketeering-related crimes and shooting at federal agents.

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, Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Division made the announcement.

Marvin Nicholson, 46, of Detroit, was convicted on March 16, 2015, after a multi-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman of the Eastern District of Michigan, of engaging in a RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, assault on federal officers, using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of firearms.

At trial, the evidence showed that the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club, which is headquartered in northwest Detroit, and its members were involved in a range of criminal activity, including conspiracy to commit murder, shootings, robbery, extortion and the possession and sale of stolen vehicles and motorcycles.  The evidence also demonstrated that the leadership of the Phantoms was heavily involved in the Vice Lords street gang, which is a well-known street gang originating in Chicago.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Nicholson was the National Enforcer of the Phantoms and a member of the Vice Lords street gang.  Further, the evidence showed that Nicholson played a significant role in planning armed assaults on rivals, imposing discipline on the Phantoms and carrying out the orders of Antonio Johnson, aka Mister Tony, MT and Big Bro, who was the National President of the Phantoms and the “Three-Star General” over the Vice Lords street gang in Michigan.  The charges of which Nicholson was convicted primarily stemmed from the Phantoms’ attacks or planned attacks on their rivals and enemies, including a murder plot.

Finally, the trial evidence demonstrated that, on Oct. 4, 2013, while the ATF attempted to execute a search warrant at his residence in Detroit, Nicholson shot at ATF agents as they attempted to enter his residence.  A wall prevented the bullets from hitting the agents.

Another 12 defendants have been convicted of a variety of racketeering and weapons offenses in this case.  Additional sentencing hearings will be held before U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman of the Eastern District of Michigan.

These convictions are the result of the Detroit One Initiative, a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit, and through the lead efforts of the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership Task Force, which consists of representatives of the ATF, Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections and the FBI. 

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Louis Gabel of the Eastern District of Michigan.

Updated August 11, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-1002