Final Defendant Scheduled for Second Gang Trial Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Thomas A. Coates, 30, formerly of Columbus, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to one count of racketeering conspiracy. Coates was originally scheduled to stand trial with Lance Green, who also pleaded guilty, on July 11 in the second of three trials involving the organized criminal enterprise known as the Short North Posse.
Benjamin C. Glassman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Brad Earman, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the plea entered into today before U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
A total of 20 individuals were indicted in the racketeering case with charges that included murders, attempted murders, drug trafficking, weapons offenses, witness tampering, extortion and robbery.
A United States District Court jury convicted five co-defendants of racketeering and murder earlier this month. After a two-month trial, the group of defendants was convicted on all counts, which accounted for 10 of 14 previously unsolved murders.
A final trial is currently scheduled to begin on September 26 for the remaining defendants.
Racketeering conspiracy is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Acting U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the two-year long investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, Columbus Police, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott’s Office, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s Office, Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx, Licking County Prosecutor Kenneth Oswalt, Muskingum County Prosecutor D. Michael Haddox, Ross County Prosecutor Matthew S. Schmidt, law enforcement leaders from those counties, officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys David DeVillers, Kevin Kelley and Brian Martinez, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Lowe of Franklin County Prosecutor O’Brien’s Office, who are prosecuting the case.