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Press Release

Lebanon Man And Vice Lord Leader Convicted Of Drug Conspiracy And Related Firearms Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Tennessee

Trial Results in Conviction of Last of 17 Defendants

Sterling Rivers a/k/a “little Real”26, of Lebanon, Tennessee was found guilty by a federal jury yesterday, of engaging in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of crack cocaine and cocaine, as part of his involvement in a criminal street gang called the Unknown Vice Lords, announced David Rivera, Acting U. S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.  Because the jury could not reach a decision on one count related to possessing a firearm during a drug crime, another trial is scheduled for November 19, 2013.

Rivers was indicted with 16 other individuals in September 2011 following a nearly two year investigation into a national street gang, the Vice Lords, operating in Wilson and Putnam County, Tennessee and beyond.  Rivers fled following his indictment and was arrested in October 2011 as a fugitive in Texas.

“This verdict is just another example of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners’ tireless commitment to combating criminal street gangs in the Middle Tennessee area,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Rivera.  “This and other recent convictions of gang members should send a clear and convincing message that violent gang activity in this district will be met with the necessary resources required to eliminate such activity and to hold those accountable who choose to inflict violence upon our communities.”

The verdict followed a two-week trial, during which Rivers represented himself.  Proof at trial established that Rivers was engaged in organizing the Vice Lords Gang throughout the state of Tennessee and had been involved in an array of violent crime, including the robbery of another drug dealer and the shooting of another individual.  Rivers is the last defendant to be tried in this case and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Fifteen co-defendants have pleaded guilty and Monique “Money” Smith was tried and convicted in October 2012 and was sentenced to life, plus five years in prison. 

 This investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Lebanon Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Braden H.  Boucek  and Brent Hannafan.

Updated March 19, 2015