Pittsburgh Crips Leader Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison on Racketeering Charges
WASHINGTON – Bryant Mathis, who served in a leadership role as a member of a Pittsburgh Crips street gang, was sentenced today in federal court in Pittsburgh to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiring to conduct a racketeering enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Mathis, 23, aka “Lil B,” pleaded guilty, before Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond, on Jan. 18, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to engage in a racketeering conspiracy.
According to court documents and information presented in court, Mathis and other members of the conspiracy participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included multiple acts involving robberies at gun point; attempted murders; distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine; and acts of obstruction of justice and intimidation of victims and witnesses.
According to court documents, Mathis was a member of the Brighton Place Crips, a criminal street gang that controlled an area of Brighton Place, Morrison Street, also known as the Mad Cave, and Federal Street in the Northside area of Pittsburgh. The Brighton Place Crips were formed in the early 1990s and in approximately 2003, it formed an alliance with the Northview Heights/Fineview Crips. This alliance expanded the gang’s drug trafficking territory, and increased the number of members and associates of the enterprise available to preserve and protect the power, territory and profits of the enterprise through violence.
The gang maintains exclusive control over drug trafficking in these neighborhoods through continuous violence and intimidation of rivals and witnesses. Members of the gang support each other through payment of attorneys’ fees, bond, jail commissary accounts and support of incarcerated members’ families.
In addition, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintains an ongoing rivalry with other Northside street gangs such as the Manchester Original Gangsters. According to information presented in court, these gangs have been involved in multiple retaliatory shootings. Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang members often identify themselves by wearing blue, flashing Crips gang hand signals, and using phrases such as “Cuz,” “C-Safe,” “Loc” and “G.K.”
According to evidence presented in court at today’s sentencing hearing, Mathis referred to himself in letters he sent from prison as a “Ho-town Killa,” a reference to the Crips rivalry with the Hoodtown Mafia, a Northside gang. In recorded telephone conversations played in court at today’s hearing, Mathis threatened an eyewitness to the April 2008 murder of Mathis’ uncle. The eyewitness, formerly a sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina, was visiting Mathis’ uncle in Pittsburgh at the time of the murder. Mathis threatened the sheriff’s deputy that he had better not cooperate with the police in the investigation of his uncle’s killer, stating that they need to “keep it gangster” and handle the issue on the streets. In a subsequent telephone conversation, Mathis discussed seeking retribution for this uncle’s murder by shooting “anybody in Hoodtown…kids, babies whoever.”
According to court documents Mathis was considered a respected member and leader of the enterprise, due to his reputation for violence, as well as his ability to instruct other members as to how to conduct the affairs of the enterprise.
Mathis is one of the 26 defendants charged in February 2010 with being members of, and conducting racketeering activity through, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang. This prosecution resulted from a Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force investigation that began in 2007. To date, more than half of the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips members who were charged in this indictment have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles A. Eberle and Troy Rive tti of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Kevin Rosenberg of the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit. The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the city of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; the Allegheny County, Penn., Police Department; and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.