CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Dozens of gang members were in court today after they were indicted last month under the RICO Act.
44 of the 54 gang members were arraigned today for racketeering conspiracy charges.
They appeared in person or by video.
Judge Tom Greeholtz’s courtroom was packed with family members and lawyers.
Dozens of Athens Park Bloods gang members were arraigned by video or in person for racketeering conspiracy charges.
This comes after they were indicted last month under the Rico Act.
Cortez Sims, who was convicted last year of the murder of Talitha Bowman, is one of the gang members charged under the RICO Act.
He also faces new homicide charges for the death of 13 year old Deontray Sothers.
“Mr. Sims, I have you up to date for an arraignment on new charges that are out of the grand jury. Those charges among other things in your case related to allegations of a racketeering conspiracy and other serious charges.”
Courtney High also appeared in Court. He is one of the men accused of the murder of Bianca Horton.
Prosecutors say she was killed to prevent her from testifying in Sims’ trial.
Since there were so many people facing charges, some lawyers had conflicts of interest.
Weeks ago Attorney Robin Flores found out he had previously represented some of the people charged under the RICO Act.
Attorney Robin Flores says “The fellow that I was representing at the time, I had to ask Judge Greenholtz to withdraw because of that and then subsequent to that and that was three weeks ago, within the last three weeks I have had at least one contact from one of the group that was indicted wanted to hire me and I had to decline because of the conflict with the other four.”
Flores say this is a unique situation.
“When we have this many defendants with conflicts of interest. It tends to make the litigation last longer, so this isn’t anything that is going to happen or resolve quickly.”
Most of the people who appeared in court were appointed lawyers and plead not guilty.
A hearing was set for many of the defendants on July 30.