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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Two Oakland Gang Members Sentenced To 43 Years In Prison For Racketeering Conspiracy And Use Of Firearms To Commit Murder

OAKLAND – Two members of the West Oakland gang, Acorn, were sentenced to 43 years in prison for their respective roles in a criminal racketeering conspiracy, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder. The Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief United States District Judge, sentenced Dionte Houff, a/k/a “Bird,” a/k/a “Birdman,” a/k/a “Tay,” and Houston Nathaniel, III, a/k/a “No No,” a/k/a “Lil No,” yesterday, following guilty pleas entered by the defendants on August 9, 2017.  Both defendants admitted being involved with murder, distribution of controlled substances, and use of firearms.  

According to his plea agreement, Nathaniel, 28, of Oakland, admitted that he became involved with the Acorn gang in or before 2008.  He acknowledged that he agreed to participate in the Acorn gang’s activities to help achieve its objectives, such as shooting members of rival gangs and distributing drugs.  Among the crimes Nathaniel committed for Acorn were two shootings that occurred on November 6, 2011, and another shooting on November 28, 2011.  Nathaniel admitted that on the morning of November 6, he carried a firearm to a rival gang’s neighborhood and shot a victim.  That victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds and has permanent injuries inhibiting his ability to walk.  On the evening of the same date, Nathaniel shot a second victim.  That victim was riding a bicycle through an area in West Oakland that the Acorn gang claims as its territory.  Nathaniel also admitted his involvement in a shooting that occurred on November 28, 2011.  On that day, Nathaniel knew a large group of people had gathered to film a music video.  Nathaniel and other Acorn members believed that the music video was being filmed in an area where rival gang members lived and that the music video disrespected the Acorn gang.  Nathaniel and others drove to the area with firearms and fired into the crowd.  As a result, seven people suffered gunshot wounds, including a child who later died from the gunshot wound.  

A federal grand jury indicted Nathaniel on July 19, 2012, and a superseding indictment was subsequently filed on June 18, 2015.  On August 9, 2017, Nathaniel pleaded guilty to the following charges from that superseding indictment: racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); maiming in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(2); assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18U.S.C. § 1959(a)(2); attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5); using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1); and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).  

Houff, 36, of Oakland, also admitted he was a member of the Acorn gang.  Houff admitted he participated in the November 28, 2011 shooting that resulted in the death of a child and gunshot wounds to six others.  For his part, Houff admitted he got into a car with other Acorn-affiliated persons and rode to the area where the music video was being filmed.  Houff acknowledged he got out of the car, walked toward the group of people, and fired his gun into the group.  Houff also admitted he was engaged in narcotics trafficking as part of his support for the Acorn gang.

Houff was named as a defendant in the July 19, 2012 indictment, and the June 18, 2015, superseding indictment.  On August 9, 2017, Houff pleaded guilty to the following charges from the superseding indictment: racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3); attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5); using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1); and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).  

In addition to the prison terms, Chief District Judge Hamilton also ordered each of the defendants to serve five years of supervised release.  

The case is the result of an investigation by the ATF and the Oakland Police Department (OPD). 
 

Updated March 7, 2018