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Press Release

Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth C. Boswell Receives 2019 DOJ Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service

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


Memphis, TN – On December 9, 2019, Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth C. Boswell was selected as a recipient of a 2019 Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, and received the award at the Criminal Division’s Annual Awards Ceremony in the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building in Washington, D.C. Ms. Boswell was selected for the AAG Award for Distinguished Service to recognize her superior performance in the case of United States v. Byron Montrail Purdy, et al. (Gangster Disciples Prosecution), a large RICO conspiracy case known as "Operation .38 Special", which was originally indicted in May, 2016, charging a total of 16 members of the Gangster Disciples criminal enterprise with racketeering and other crimes. Ms. Boswell was the lead AUSA in this significant gang prosecution, and led a team of trial attorneys who were also recognized with an AAG Award, including Sam Stringfellow, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Mississippi, and Trial Attorneys Francesca Liquori and Shauna Hale of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.

The prosecution team was recognized for their outstanding work in the investigation and prosecution of members and associates of the Chicago-based violent street gang, the Gangster Disciples. The Gangster Disciples is a criminal organization with a national presence. Since its inception in the 1980s, the organization has expanded its reach into at least 35 states. In the last several decades, it has made a name for itself as being one of the four most violent gangs in Chicago. Similarly, the Gangster Disciples are active in Tennessee, where it is considered one of the state’s most prominent and violent gangs. The gang is well known for the distribution of narcotics, trafficking in firearms, and violent crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault, and witness intimidation.

The prosecution team in this case, working with an FBI-led multi-agency gang unit that included agents and officers from the ATF, the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, investigated a plethora of violent crimes committed by leaders and members of the Gangster Disciples. In doing so, they were able to bring together a comprehensive racketeering indictment that documented over 20 years of criminal conduct in Memphis, Jackson, and multiple smaller communities throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia that was committed to further the unlawful ends of this enterprise, including shootings, robberies, and the widespread trafficking of cocaine and marijuana. In all, the prosecution team secured the indictment of 16 of the most violent leaders and members of the Gangster Disciples operating in West Tennessee. Through long hours of hard work in trial preparation, multiple evidentiary hearings, and continued investigation, the trial team ultimately secured the conviction by plea to racketeering charges for all 16 defendants, which resulted in sentences as high as 30 and 35 years for the most serious offenders. This prosecution significantly damaged the national Gangster Disciples organization, eliminating some of its most powerful leaders, removing the gang from its key territory, and dismantling an important part of its organization. The prosecution team’s success in dismantling this important network of the gang in West Tennessee was exemplary.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerry Kitchen and Annie Christoff, as well as Legal Assistants Laura Miller and LaTonya Weeks also assisted Ms. Boswell and contributed to the overall success of this case in a significant way.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "The importance of this RICO case cannot be overstated, and Ms. Boswell’s leadership in this massive disruption and dismantlement of the Gangster Disciples organization, including several governors, enforcers, and ranking members of the gang, was outstanding and deserves recognition at the highest levels of the Department of Justice. I am proud of the work and dedication of all of our employees in the Western District of Tennessee, and this award is further evidence of our collective commitment to the important mission and priorities of DOJ."

Criminal Chief Assistant Beth C. Boswell

Pictured from left to right are: Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Rybicki; Shauna S. Hale, Trial Attorney, Organized Crime and Gang Section; Francesca Liquori, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey; Beth C. Boswell, Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Tennessee; Sam Stringfellow, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Mississippi; and Brian Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.



Cherri Green
Public Affairs
(901) 544-4231

Updated January 6, 2020