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Press Release

Oakland Man Convicted By Jury Of Murder For Hire

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Evidence Showed Defendant Agreed To Commit 2016 Murder In East Oakland For $5,000

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal jury on Friday convicted Burte Gucci Rhodes, a.k.a. Moeshawn, of conspiring to commit a murder for hire and of committing a murder for hire, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson.

Rhodes, 41, of Oakland, was charged by superseding indictment on December 18, 2018.  His co-defendants Marcus Etienne, a.k.a. Hitler, and Mario Robinson were also charged in that superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit murder for hire and murder for hire, among other charges.  Both Etienne, 41, of St. Martin Parish, La., and Robinson, 39, of Oakland, have since pleaded guilty and admitted their roles in the murder.

The trial of Rhodes focused on the March 22, 2016, murder of Louisiana native Trince Thibodeaux, age 28.  Trial evidence demonstrated that Etienne was the leader of a racketeering enterprise based near Lafayette, Louisiana, that engaged in extensive illegal activities, including drug trafficking, assault, and illegal firearms possession.  Robinson moved from Oakland, California, to Louisiana in 2015 and joined in the Etienne enterprise.

Evidence at trial showed that in 2016 Etienne believed Thibodeaux had stolen several thousand dollars that he had been tasked with transporting from Louisiana to California and therefore ordered Robinson and another member of the organization to have Thibodeaux killed.  Robinson then contracted with Rhodes, a longtime friend of his from Oakland, to carry out the murder in exchange for $5,000.  

Evidence at trial showed that on the night of March 22, 2016, Robinson and another member of the organization lured Thibodeaux to a predetermined location near the intersection of 90th Avenue and International Boulevard in the eastern part of Oakland, where Rhodes was waiting.  The evidence demonstrated that, once Thibodeaux arrived, Rhodes approached him from behind and shot him nine times.  Thibodeaux was pronounced dead later that night.

One week after the murder, Robinson sent Rhodes a wire transfer of $1,250.  In the months following the murder, Robinson had other associates in Louisiana send additional wire transfers to Rhodes.  

A federal jury convicted Rhodes following a one week trial of one count of murder for hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958, which carries a sentence of life in prison.  The jury also convicted Rhodes of one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  Any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

United States District Judge William Alsup presided over the Rhodes trial and set a sentencing hearing for January 31, 2023.  Rhodes remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing.  

Etienne and Robinson were sentenced on October 13, 2020, for their involvement in the racketeering conspiracy, which encompassed their roles in the murder for hire.  U.S. District Judge Alsup sentenced Etienne to 34 years and Robinson to 32 years in federal prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey Boome and Kevin Rubino prosecuted the case, with the assistance of Jessie Chelsea..  The prosecution was a result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS-CI with assistance of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Oakland Police Department.  

Updated November 7, 2022