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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 29, 2014

Detroit Gang Leader Convicted For Planning Armed Robbery By Gang Members

A leader of a street gang that operated on the east side of Detroit was found guilty today of aiding and abetting an armed robbery, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Steven Bogdalek, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Detroit.

Christopher LaJuan Tibbs, 39, was convicted after a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman.

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.  Tibbs helped plan an armed robbery of a Little Caesars restaurant in Redford, Michigan, in September 2013.  Tibbs sent subordinate members of the gang to commit the crime, and took a majority of the proceeds from the robbery.

The trial marked the first time that the criminal street gang enhancement has been 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 increased from 20 to 30 years in prison.  Tibbs faces an additional mandatory minimum sentence of seven years for his conviction for aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during the robbery.  The seven-year sentence must be served consecutively to the sentence that Tibbs receives for aiding and abetting the robbery.

“This conviction, utilizing a novel legal theory, is an example of the way we are using all available resources to tackle gang violence in our neighborhoods,” McQuade said.  “We are working diligently to prevent violent crime, but when a serious crime like this one occurs, we will prosecute the defendants with the full force of the law.”

The case was investigated by ATF, with assistance from the Redford Police Department, Detroit Police Department, and Chicago Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Louis Gabel and Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley for the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.

Updated March 19, 2015