Like a lot of street gangs, the Bailey Boys relied on drug dealing and robberies for money, and violence to protect its turf.
Kenneth Pettway Jr., the 34-year-old leader of that gang, was sentenced this week to 40 years in prison.
Pettway, found guilty of drug and gun charges, was portrayed during his trial as the de facto leader of the gang, which operated in the Kensington-Bailey neighborhood, and a primary source of its cocaine, heroin and guns.
The trial also included a YouTube video that prosecutors Michael P. Felicetta and Seth T. Molisani claimed was created by Pettway and included lyrics and images reflecting his criminal activity.
At his sentencing, Pettway's lawyer pointed to the mandatory 40-year sentence and called it excessive and unfair. He reminded U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy that his client's convictions were for guns and drugs, not murder.
"I can understand a 40-year sentence for an ax murderer," said defense attorney Robert Singer. "It's a sad commentary of where we are right now."
Singer said his client is the victim of the prosecution "stacking" charges to ensure a longer prison sentence. Pettway would have otherwise faced a recommended sentence of 19 to 24 years in prison, he said.
Prosecutors, in a statement Tuesday, described Pettway as the leader of a gang that engaged in drug trafficking and acts of violence.
"Sooner or later, the young men joining these violent, drug-dealing neighborhood gangs need to realize that it is a big world out there, that they are the captains of their own destiny, and that the only place allegiance to these gangs and their leaders, such as Kenneth Pettway, will take them is to an early grave or to federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr.
In a related case, another member of the Bailey Boys was sentenced this week to 12 years in prison for his role in a 2010 murder.
Dwight Mitchell, who was 16 at the time, admitted taking part in the killing of Charles Myles-Jones, a store clerk at the Super Stop on Kensington Avenue. By all accounts, Myles-Jones was an innocent bystander murdered as part of a gang feud.
"You're going to have to live with the fact that you took someone's life," U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny told Mitchell on Tuesday.
Tre Smitherman, the teenager accused of pulling the trigger that night, was charged with shooting Myles-Jones in order to gain entry into the Bailey Boys.
Mitchell said he and Smitherman were at the Super Stop but claims he simply held open the door to the store and that it was Smitherman, not him, who fired inside.
Smitherman went to trial and was acquitted by Skretny, who cited a lack of proof linking the slaying to Smitherman’s efforts to join the Bailey Boys.
In his decision, Skretny described the slaying of Myles-Jones as tragic but said federal prosecutors failed to provide adequate evidence that his death was tied to a larger criminal enterprise, namely the Bailey Boys.
Mitchell admitted playing a role in Myles-Jones’ death but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, aiding and abetting a violent crime committed in aid of a racketeering enterprise.