A federal jury found Maurice Antonio Kent guilty of RICO conspiracy, violent crime for the benefit of racketeering, discharging a firearm during the commission of these violent crimes and possession of a firearm as a criminal sentenced.
“The 135 Pirus gang is a violent criminal organization whose members have committed a multitude of crimes, including the gruesome execution of a 17-year-old witness,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said. “Kent and his gang mates showed absolute disregard for human life and have now been brought to justice thanks to the strong partnership between federal and local law enforcement. This case, which resulted in a verdict of the jury convicting Kent of all charges, reflects our office’s determination to relentlessly investigate and prosecute the gangs that fuel violence in our communities.
“The brutal and tragic violence perpetrated by Kent and his gang mates is completely shocking and deplorable,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley. “With this belief, Kent will be able to commit no more senseless violence and homicidal acts on our streets. The FBI remains steadfast in its resolve to work with its partners to ensure that individuals like Kent are held accountable for their crimes and to eliminate gang violence from our communities.
“Gangs and organized crime have no place in our community,” Brookhaven Deputy Police Chief Brandon Gurley said. “Organized crime knows no borders, and neither do we. Working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been instrumental in ensuring that Kent and his associates are all held accountable for the violent crimes they committed in our city and throughout Georgia.
“In reference to this investigation, I would like to credit the Violent Repeat Offender Program (VRO) which is a program run by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia that has been in place for many years,” the statement said. Cartersville Police. Chief Frank McCann. “The VRO program brings together federal, state and local law enforcement officers each month to remove repeat violent offenders from our streets. Positive results when we all work together!
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented to the court: The 135 Pirus gang originated in Compton, California, and has a nationwide presence, including in the Northern District of Georgia. Kent was a gang leader in northwest Georgia with command authority over members around Cartersville and Rome, Georgia. The 135 Pirus are governed by a set of rules that, among other commandments, prohibit its members from cooperating with law enforcement.
In the early morning hours of May 13, 2017, an argument erupted outside a Brookhaven nightclub between a member of the California-based 135 Pirus gang and a member of a rival gang. At that time, Kent fired several bullets into a crowd of people outside the club, seriously injuring the other gang member as well as a club security guard. During his escape, Kent threw the gun out of a vehicle just before being apprehended by police. Shortly after being arrested and while in police custody, Kent learned that a 17-year-old gang member, who may have witnessed the shooting, had been questioned by law enforcement. Kent thought he was a “snitch”. Two days later, 135 members of the Pirus gang hatched a plan to lure the teenager to Bartow County, Georgia, where they shot him with Kent’s gun, leaving the boy’s body on a rural road .
The jury also heard evidence that eight months before the nightclub shooting, in September 2016, Kent had committed a drive-by shooting of a man standing in his front yard in Cartersville, Georgia. After that shooting, Kent threw the gun into Lake Allatoona. The FBI then recovered the gun from the bottom of the lake and matched cartridge cases and a bullet from the drive-by shooting to Kent’s gun.
In addition to Maurice Antonio Kent aka “Savage Duze”, 32, of Cartersville, Georgia, a number of other 135 members and associates of the Pirus gang have already been convicted in this case, including:
• Christopher Nwanjoku, alias “Problem”, 30, a 135 Pirus leader from Lawrenceville, Georgia, was convicted of RICO conspiracy;
• Jamel Dupree Hughes, aka “Savage”, 27, a member of 135 Pirus from Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted of murder with intent to racketeering, using a firearm in pursuit of a felony of violence resulting in death, attempted murder for the benefit of racketeering and discharge of a firearm in pursuit of a felony of violence;
• Cedric Sams, Jr., aka “Awall,” 29, a member of 135 Pirus from Cartersville, Georgia, was convicted of murder with intent to racketeer and use a firearm in pursuit of a violent crime resulting in death;
• Jennifer Foutz, aka “Rose,” 30, a member of 135 Pirus of Acworth, Georgia, was convicted of murder with intent to racketeering and use of a firearm in the prosecution of a felony violence resulting in death; and
• Michael Kent, aka “Wikked”, 32, an associate of 135 Pirus of Atlanta, Georgia, who is the twin brother of Maurice Antonio Kent, was convicted of RICO Conspiracy.
In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider US sentencing guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders. The sentencing hearing for Kent and the other defendants will be set for a later date.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force, with valuable assistance from the Brookhaven Police Department, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Cartersville Police Department and the Georgia Community Supervision Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Morris, who coordinates the bureau’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), and Michael Herskowitz, chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section, are prosecuting the case.