Vice Lords Associate Pleads Guilty to Obtaining and Disclosing Private Hospital Information of Victims and Their Families
An associate of the Vice Lords street gang pleaded guilty today to witness tampering for obtaining and disclosing private health information of Vice Lords shooting victims and victims’ family members to a member of the gang.
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) Detroit Field Division, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department made the announcement.
Jamerio Clark, aka Merio, 27, of Detroit, pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness, victim or informant before U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson of the Eastern District of Michigan. Clark is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2017.
"Protecting victims and witnesses is our highest priority," McQuade said. "Stealing personal information to facilitate witness intimidation is a serious crime that undermines our criminal justice system."
"The pursuit of these violent criminals is accomplished best through sustained, proactive and coordinated investigations of the FBI's Violent Gang Safe Streets Task Force which is comprised of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners", said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of FBI. "Through our unified efforts, we are increasingly disrupting the ability of gangs to commit crimes of violence and a variety of other crimes routinely committed in the furtherance of their criminal enterprises."
S. Robin Shoemaker, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division of ATF said, “Countering firearms violence, particularly when it relates to violent street gangs remains one of ATF’s primary missions, when it comes to gun violence ATF will continue to work hand in hand with our Detroit One partners to ensure that those individuals’ who engage in violent criminal activity are removed from our neighborhoods.”
According to admissions made by others who have pleaded guilty in this case, the Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in a variety of crimes, and Vice Lords’ leaders are located in both Chicago and Detroit. The gang is broken down into various “sets,” “decks,” or “branches,” including the Detroit-based Traveling Vice Lords (TVL). The Vice Lords have often targeted members who sought to leave the gang for physical beatings or murder.
Jamerio Clark admitted that from May 8, 2015, through at least January 2016, he was employed at a medical facility where he had access to a private database that contained individually identifiable health information for anyone who had been treated at a Detroit Medical Center facility. At Antonio Clark’s request and while employed at the medical facility, Jamerio Clark accessed this database on at least 15 occasions to search for three TVL shooting victims, he admitted. According to the plea agreement, Jamerio Clark then provided information, including dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses and information pertaining to relatives of these individuals, to Antonio Clark. Jamerio Clark admitted that he knew his brother wanted this information to locate these individuals and prevent them from cooperating in the investigation and prosecution of the TVL shooting.
Eight members and leaders of the TVL have pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting, six of whom have been sentenced: Antonio Clark, 26, of Detroit, was sentenced to 240 months in prison; Aramis Wilson, 25, of Detroit, was sentenced to 150 months in prison; Dion Robinson, 38, of Detroit, was sentenced to 121 months in prison; Jonathan Kinchen, 23, of Detroit, was sentenced to 120 months in prison; Tyrone Price, 27, of Detroit, was sentenced to 140 months in prison; and Kojuan Lee, 20, of Detroit, was sentenced to 97 months in prison.
The charges and convictions related to the TVL shooting are just one component of the federal government’s prosecution of the Vice Lords street gang, which has led to the arrests and convictions of dozens of Vice Lords leaders and members over the last few years. In two trials during March and May 2015, juries convicted eight leaders and members of the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club, many of whom were also leaders and members of the Vice Lords, for various crimes, including a mass-murder plot against a rival organization and the shooting of a member of another rival organization. Among those convicted was Antonio Johnson, aka MT and Mister Tony, the National President of the Phantoms and the Three-Star General over all of the Vice Lords in Michigan. On Sept. 8, 2015, Johnson was sentenced to 35 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy, murder conspiracy in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, aiding and abetting the use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm.
The arrests and convictions in this case are, in part, 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. 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 FBI, law enforcement authorities linked various acts of violence in Detroit to the Vice Lords street gang, and identified the leaders and key members of the gang, who now have been held accountable.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The ATF, FBI and Detroit Police Department are investigating the case. Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Mark Bilkovic of the Eastern District of Michigan are prosecuting the case.