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Press Release

Convicted Minneapolis Gang Member Sentenced to Additional 70 Months in Prison for Ordering Retaliatory Violence Against Witnesses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota
Tywin Bender instructed other gang members to “Smash him as soon as you all catch him”

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the sentencing of TYWIN BENDER, a/k/a “Finn Winn,” 26, to a total of 130 months in prison for attempting to retaliate violently against federal witnesses. On April 7, 2016, following a three-day trial before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle, a jury found BENDER guilty of conspiracy to retaliate against two federal witnesses. Bender previously had pleaded guilty to federal firearms charges in a related case. Today he was sentenced to 60 months on the firearms charge and 70 months consecutive for the witness retaliation charge.

“Our system of justice depends on the willingness of witnesses to take the stand and testify truthfully,” said Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen. “When Tywin Bender ordered two federal witnesses to be beaten in retaliation for their testimony against a violent gang leader, he committed an assault on the judicial system itself. This prosecution shows that such assaults will not go unpunished.”

BENDER, a known member of the Stick Up Boys street gang based in North Minneapolis, was charged in November 2014 in an 11-defendant indictment for conspiracy to commit the crime of being a felon in possession of firearms, a crime to which BENDER pleaded guilty. One of his co-defendants, Veltrez Black, a/k/a “Chief,” was also charged in that indictment and exercised his right to go to trial. Two other gang members, Antonio Lewis and Kibbie Walker, testified against Black at trial. On October 22, 2015, a jury found Black guilty of all charges against him.

As proven at BENDER’s witness retaliation trial, the day after Black’s conviction, BENDER used a prison phone to call an accomplice who was not incarcerated and dictated an email for her to send to two fellow gang members, D.W. and D.G., who were confined at Minnesota Correctional Facility – Rush City, which is the same facility where witnesses Lewis and Walker were then held. The email stated, “the nigga bogus [Lewis’s nickname] is a rat.  he took the stand on chief. smash him as soon as you see him. green light. the nigga Kibbie took the stand too on chief. let everybody know. no talking no explanations.” The plot was foiled when an alert Department of Corrections employee noticed the threatening language in the email and steps were taken to protect the intended victims.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen.


Defendant Information:

TYWIN BENDER, a/k/a/ “Finn Winn,” 26

Stillwater, Minn.


  • Conspiracy to possess firearms as a convicted felon, 1 count
  • Conspiracy to retaliate against a federal witness, 1 count


  • Firearms charge – 60 months
  • Witness retaliation charge – 70 months consecutive



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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Updated July 28, 2016