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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Prosecution rests in South LA gang leader’s racketeering trial

Paul "Doc" Wallace could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A federal jury may start deliberating as soon as Wednesday as to whether Paul "Doc" Wallace, the alleged leader of a South LA street gang, is guilty of racketeering and murder.

Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday after presenting evidence for more than a week of a long list of crimes, from prison brawls to premeditated murder, they say Wallace committed to establish himself as the leader of the East Coast Crips and to further the gang's reputation in South Central.

The trial is unusual both because Wallace in recent years has been seen as a peacemaker in South LA, where he helped end a bloody, 20-year war between the East Coast Crips and the Hispanic Florencia 13 gang, as well as because it's rare to have a racketeering case against one defendant rather than a large group of members of a criminal organization.

Wallace can be sent to prison for life if convicted.

One of the government's last witnesses to testify was the leader of the "Palm Tree Bandits" crew who is serving a sentence of more than 32 years for a series of nine bank robberies in 2016. Gary "G-Thing" Henry told the jury that he was Wallace's cellmate for five to six months and that Wallace told him about his leadership of the East Coast Crips and murders he had committed.

Henry also told the jury that he had been upset because Wallace's cousin had been cooperating with the prosecution against him and Wallace wouldn't let him do anything against his cousin.

"It broke all the rules," Henry said.

Henry is one of several East Coast Crips members who testified that Wallace told them about the 2003 killing of Raymond Pickett, another East Coast Crips member who had disrespected Wallace. Last week, another cooperating witness, Derek "Too Cool" Banks, testified that Wallace had bragged about killing "Ray Dog," a "little homie" who had been embarrassing him in front of other people.

According to Wallace's attorneys, Henry and Banks are testifying against Wallace because they're looking to get a break in their own criminal cases. Henry was confronted under cross-examination by Shaun Khojayan, one of Wallace's lawyers, with a discussion he had last year with the prosecutors about possibly getting relocated and protection when he gets released sooner or later.

"I was made no promises," Henry said. "I don't know what's going to happen."

Wallace's lawyers also called the FBI agent who had been running Banks as a paid informant in 2016, the year Wallace was arrested after a search of his home turned up firearms he wasn't supposed to own as a convicted felon. Banks was on federal probation at the time and was arrested later that year for pimping his own granddaughter while still officially working for the FBI.

Here too, Wallace's lawyers have argued that Banks escaped severe consequences for violating his probation because he agreed to testify against Wallace. He served a state prison sentence on the human trafficking conviction.

Banks offered to tell the prosecution about Wallace's confession to him about the 2003 killing of Pickett and his other criminal activities in 2019 and 2020, according to Wallace's lawyers, while he was awaiting the outcome of his federal probation violation. Banks was released soon after and sentenced on the probation violation for time served and an additional term of supervised release. The FBI agent investigating Wallace was put in charge of Banks' supervised release rather than the U.S. Probation Office.

The defense's first witness was a neurologist who testified that Wallace can't run because of an injury to his spine when he was shot in the back as a 16-year-old. The evidence is relevant because the only eye witness who testified to the 2003 killing of Pickett said that the shooter ran away afterward.

Banks, the cooperating witness, testified last week that Wallace in 2004 used a doctor's medical report to escape prosecution for Pickett's murder. Although, the Los Angeles District Attorney had charged Wallace for the murder, the case was dropped based on that doctor's report.

Wallace has been a member of the East Coast Crips since the late 1970s, according to court filings. The gang controls a large swath of territory on the eastern side of South LA, hence its name, and is a loose confederation of multiple subsets. Wallace, prosecutors claim, is the most influential member of the so-called 6 Pacc, a collective of four sets named after their territories around 62nd, 66th, 68th and 69th streets.

Follow @edpettersson
Categories / Criminal, Regional, Trials

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