By Joe Johnson
A federal jury in Macon on Thursday convicted three members of the Gangster Disciples street gang for their roles in the murder of an Athens resident as retribution for the killing of another gang member and the murders of two other Athens men falsely suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.
Philmon Deshawn Chambers, aka "Dolla Phil," 34, of Atlanta was convicted of Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) conspiracy; Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering - Murder (VICAR-Murder); Carry and Use of a Firearm During and In Relation to a Crime of Violence; and Causing the Death of a Person Using a Firearm. Chambers faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison for the VICAR-Murder offense, and a maximum of life in prison for each of the remaining offenses.
Co-defendant Andrea Paige Browner, aka "Drea," 28, of Athens, Georgia, was convicted of Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) conspiracy; Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering - Murder (VICAR-Murder); and Causing the Death of a Person Using a Firearm. Browner faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison for the VICAR-Murder offense, and a maximum of life in prison for each of the remaining offenses.
Co-defendant Lesley Chappell Green, aka "Grip," 35, of Stone Mountain, was convicted of Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) conspiracy. Green faces a maximum of life in prison.
The trial began on Aug. 7th before Chief U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell. A sentencing date for Chambers, Browner and Green has not been scheduled.
Two co-defendants previously entered guilty pleas:
Robert Maurice Carlisle, aka "Different," 36, of Lithonia, Georgia, pleaded guilty to Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) conspiracy on June 8, and is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison; and
Shabazz Larry Guidry, aka "Lil Larry," 28, of Decatur, Georgia, pleaded guilty to Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) conspiracy on June 8 and is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Sentencings for these defendants has not been scheduled.
"Philmon Chambers, Andrea Browner and Lesley Green were Gangster Disciples who engaged in a pattern of violent criminal activity for years, to include three heinous murders; now, justice has been served," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a released statement. "Violent gangs, intimidation and murder have no place in our lawful society, and I commend the federal, state and local partners who worked so closely to solve this case of exceptional complexity."
"Our hope is that this verdict brings a sense of relief and justice to the victim's families, who have endured such pain throughout these past few years," said Robert Gibbs, Senior Resident Agent of FBI Atlanta's Macon Office. "All three defendants' actions were indefensible, cruel and unjust. They will now face the penalty for the despicable choices they made. We are grateful for our law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly on this case, as their dedication was essential in today's verdict."
"This guilty verdict ensures that these violent offenders who are directly responsible for multiple murders are off the streets, making Athens and the entire state of Georgia safer," said Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Jerry Saulters. "Local, state and federal agencies poured countless hours over several years into the success of this case, and I am thankful for their tireless efforts to make sure justice is served."
According to court documents, Chambers held a "Position of Authority" within the national Gangster Disciples criminal organization, which included overseeing members of the "Enforcement Team." The Enforcement Team is directed to discipline gang members using physical assault or murder. Co-defendant Green was a member of the Enforcement Team. Co-defendant Browner was a member of the "Sisters of the Struggle" (SOS), a parallel female component of the Gangster Disciples, and held a leadership position in the gang.
Evidence presented at trial proved that on Dec. 10, 2018, Gangster Disciples member Walter Brown was murdered in Athens, Georgia. Chambers and Browner sought retaliation for Brown's death and believed three unnamed Athens residents were responsible. On Dec. 14, 2018, Browner met Rodriquez Apollo Rucker, of Athens, at a motel on North Finley Street Athens and learned that Rucker was related to one of the individuals she believed killed Brown.
Browner texted Chambers, and Chambers came to the motel. Chambers followed Rucker home and shot and killed him. Browner notified an associate of the Gangster Disciples that she and Chambers would be leaving town because the police would be looking for them.
Browner was taken into custody in Mt. Enterprise, Texas, on Dec. 15, and Chambers got away. Chambers was suspicious that someone was cooperating with law enforcement and focused his suspicions on Derrick Ruff and Joshua Jackson. Chambers concluded that Ruff and Jackson were “snitches” and directed Green, who held a subordinate position on the Enforcement Team, to carry out the murders of Ruff and Jackson.
Text messages and intercepted phone calls between Chambers, Green, Carlisle and Guidry revealed that Ruff and Jackson were lured by Green, as directed by Chambers, to drive from Athens to Lawrenceville to break into storage sheds and steal items to send to Chambers as “aid and assistance” as he was hiding out from law enforcement in a Gangster Disciple “safe house” in Killeen, Texas. The ruse worked, and Ruff and Jackson were murdered on Dec. 19 and their bodies concealed in the storage unit until March 17, 2019, when police with the assistance of cadaver sniffing dogs located them. Additional messages between Chambers, Green, Carlisle and Guidry showed that they conspired to dispose of the victims’ bodies, which included potentially burning the bodies or dumping the bodies in a landfill. Law enforcement recovered the bodies and made arrests before these plans could be carried out.