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Press Release

Young Melph Mafia Gang Member Sentenced to Life in Prison Plus 35 Years Following Convictions on Rico, Gun and Murder Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that LIONEL ALLEN, a/k/a “Lot,” age 23, of New Orleans, was sentenced today after having previously been found guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act “RICO” as well as firearms conspiracy, and murder charges. U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt sentenced ALLEN to serve life in prison plus 420 months (35 years) with said sentences to run consecutive.  Additionally, ALLEN was ordered to pay $2,000 in special assessment costs.


In June of 2017, LIONEL ALLEN, DEDRICK KEELEN, JAWAN FORTIA, BRYAN SCOTT and DELWIN MCLAREN were convicted following a 7-day trial.  According to evidence presented at trial, ALLEN was a leader of the “Young Melph Mafia” gang, also referred to as “YMM.”  The YMM gang was initially formed in or about 2005 and continued to exist through 2014.  During the course of the federal investigation into the gang, agents learned that the defendants controlled an area of Central City New Orleans along Martin Luther King Boulevard near the former Melpomene Housing Development.  The gang, which started when the members were in their early teens, participated in a wide ranging conspiracy to distribute street level quantities of crack cocaine in Central City and participated in several acts of violence against rival gangs, such as the 110ers.  The members of the YMM were associates of the members of the Allen family, who were also indicted and convicted in federal court in 2014.  Three members of the 110ers gang were convicted on January 29, 2015, in Orleans Parish Criminal Court for the Briana Allen shooting.


The jury found ALLEN guilty of conspiracy to possess firearms during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking crimes, assault with a dangerous weapon, and three murders.  Specifically, ALLEN was convicted of participating in the shooting death of Vennie Smith on April 22, 2012, the shooting and killing Deshawn Hartford on June 3, 2012, and for being an aider and abettor in the shooting death of Travis Thomas that occurred on the I-10 on May 6, 2013.  


ALLEN was one of eleven defendants originally charged in August of 2014 in a superseding indictment involving gun and drug conspiracies. Five YMM defendants pled guilty to the conspiracy charges and were sentenced. JACOBI “CO” BOYD was sentenced to 480 months of incarceration; ALFRED “AL” COBBINS was sentenced to 252 months of incarceration; SHAWN “GUNNER” GRACIN was sentenced to 270 months of incarceration; RUBEN “RUE” GEIGER was sentenced to 220 months of incarceration; DARIUS “D-MAN” WILLIAMS was sentenced to 156 months of incarceration; and DEONTRE “SOULJA” HILLS was sentenced to 96 months of incarceration. In August of 2015, federal RICO and murder charges were added against the remaining defendants in a second superseding indictment. JEFFREY WILSON pled guilty to only drug charges and was sentenced to 180 months of incarceration.  DEDRICK KEELEN was sentenced to life plus 10 years after being convicted of multiple murder counts at trial, JAWAN FORTIA was also sentenced to life in prison for participating in the RICO, gun and drug conspiracies, DELWIN McLAREN was sentenced to 16 years of incarceration for his participation in the same drug and gun conspiracies, and BRYAN SCOTT received 20 years in prison for his role in the gun and drug conspiracies.


Acting U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as part of the metro area’s Multi-Agency Gang Unit (MAG) in investigating this matter.  As an integral component of NOLA FOR LIFE’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy, the MAG Unit consists of a partnership with New Orleans Police Department (NOPD); Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office (DA); Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO); Louisiana State Police (LSP); Parole Board of the Louisiana Department of Corrections; United States Attorney’s Office (USAO); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); United States Marshal’s Service (USMS); and the United States Probation & Parole Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  Assistant United States Attorneys Edward Rivera, Nolan Paige, and Nicholas Moses were in charge of the prosecution.

Updated December 13, 2017

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses