The brother of a reputed Chicago gang leader on trial on racketeering conspiracy charges was charged Wednesday with threatening a key cooperating witness during testimony this week.
Rosco Blackman, 30, of Streator, was charged in a criminal complaint with one count of attempting to intimidate a federal witness. Court information was not immediately available.
The threat was allegedly directed at Alvin Vaughn, one of the founding members of the violent Goonie gang allegedly headed up by Blackman’s older brother, Romeo “O-Dog” Blackman.
According to the eight-page complaint, Rosco Blackman was present in U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey’s courtroom on Tuesday for the testimony of Vaughn, a key prosecution witnesses who had been granted immunity by the U.S. attorney’s office.
In addition to his general knowledge of the gang, Vaughn told the jury that he’d provided guns to Romeo Blackman and that Blackman had admitted to killing a man that he, Rosco Blackman, and others believed was acting as a police informant, leading to a raid of Vaughn’s home in January 2014.
Vaughn also testified that Rosco Blackman had been involved in a physical altercation with the suspected informant, Johnathan Johnston, shortly before Romeo Blackman allegedly killed Johnston on Jan. 22, 2014.
After the judge called for a short break at about 3:30 p.m., Vaughn was being led to a meeting room by a Chicago police detective when Rosco Blackman “leaned” toward Vaughn and said words to the effect of, “I’ll get you,” the complaint stated.
Vaughn later told investigators that he’d seen Rosco Blackman in the gallery during his testimony. At one point, Blackman had exited the room and appeared to be looking at Vaughn through the courtroom door window and mouthing words at him, the complaint stated.
Vaughn “understood the mouthed words to be a threat intended to influence (his) testimony,” the complaint stated.
Vaughn also told investigators, however, he “was not scared” of Blackman.
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The indictment in the case, which is nearing the end of its second week of trial, alleges that Romeo Blackman, together with Terrance “T” Smith and Jolicious “Jo Jo” Turman, are responsible for 10 slayings and six attempted murders in an 18-month span from 2014 to 2016.
Each of the defendants is charged with committing murder in furtherance of a racketeering conspiracy, which carries a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.
Unlike more traditional street gangs that were highly organized and focused on protecting drug turf, the Goonies allegedly engaged in a shockingly petty cycle of violence with rivals, where shooting at “opps” was an almost daily routine and killings were bragged about on Facebook and other social media.
At the center of the prosecution’s case are several key cooperating witnesses, including Vaughn and his brother, Alex Vaughn, who testified last week.
Security has been tight at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse for the trial, with spectators required to lock up cellphones before entering the courtroom. Court filings detailing the testimony of alleged co-conspirators were also kept under seal, and Blakey has prohibited prosecutors from disseminating trial exhibits to the news media.
The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks.