A Buffalo street gang member faces a mandatory life sentence after a jury found him guilty Monday of conspiracy and murder.
The verdict, reached after a trial that focused on the gang's rap music videos, means the jury found Schuele Boys member Roderick Arrington responsible for the revenge killing of Quincy Balance in August 2012.
The jury, which found Arrington guilty of eight of the 12 charges against him, also convicted him of racketeering and narcotics conspiracy.
The verdict followed a federal court trial that centered around allegations that the Schuele Boys were an organized street gang and that Arrington, one of its enforcers, killed Balance near Northland and Stevens streets. Prosecutors said the murder was an act of revenge for the killing four days earlier of Schuele Boys associate Walter "Matt" Davison.
The case also centered on two rap music videos, played repeatedly during the trial, that the government points to as proof of the gang's criminal enterprise. The videos, according to prosecutors, boldly tout the gang's drug dealing and violence and were produced by Gone Entertainment, a record label created by the Schuele Boys.
In one of the videos, Arrington and other alleged gang members can be seen drinking champagne at Russell's Steakhouse while a waiter serves them large plates piled high with cash.
From the start of the trial, defense attorney Andrew C. LoTempio claimed the videos were the government's only evidence of an organized street gang. He also told the largely white jury that the videos played to their racial fears and prejudices.
"They must have done exactly what I asked them not to do," LoTempio said of the jury and their verdict. "They had to assume that everyone in those videos was a gang member and not a prop in a video."
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wei Xiang and Paul Parisi, citing an upcoming trial against another alleged Schuele Boys member, declined to comment Monday.
During the trial, three eyewitnesses, including fellow gang member Marcel Worthy, testified that they saw Arrington fire the shots that killed Balance. Worthy took the witness stand just days after pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against his boyhood friend.
Arrested in 2014, Worthy, like Arrington, was charged with murder and was facing a possible life sentence when he took his last-minute plea deal with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to two felony charges – racketeering and narcotics conspiracy – and admitted a role in the killing of 16-year-old Kevin Gray in December 2006.
Gray was killed after Worthy and several other Schuele Boys confronted him and other teens at a gas station near Grider Street and East Delavan Avenue and asked them if they were members of the Chelsea Boys, a rival gang.
Later that day, an unidentified shooter in a vehicle fired into the same group of teens on Durham Avenue and Gray, who was not a gang member, was killed. Worthy claims he was driving but that someone else pulled the trigger.
At the heart of the federal case against Arrington was the allegation that he and Worthy joined others in an organized street gang that, for 15 years, used violence to protect its drug dealing turf just south of the Erie County Medical Center.
To support that claim, prosecutors relied on the rap music videos that depicted many of the gang members and their loved ones. One of the videos included a photo of Worthy's former girlfriend, one of four people shot and killed during the City Grill shooting downtown seven years ago.
Early on in the Schuele Boys case, prosecutors said members of the gang were at the Main Street bar and restaurant and may have been among the targets when a fight broke out inside and eventually spilled into the street.
The killer, Riccardo M. McCray, also known by the nickname "Murder," was convicted of murdering the four people that night and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara will sentence Arrington on Dec. 20.