Gang group back in court

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By Kenny Colston

Seven individuals charged with participating in organized crime have pleaded not guilty after being indicted on that and other drug charges.

La Grange Police arrested the seven who appeared last week, plus one other man in October after a weeks-long investigation into possible drug and gang activity.

According to police, the Oldham 8 are affiliated with the Southside Crips gang, but those charged have denied the affiliation in court.

In their first court appearance after being indicted in December, six of the eight pleaded not guilty to charges of one count each of engaging in organized crime, unlawful transaction with a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

Those who plead not guilty last Thursday include Keaton T. Lee, 19, Roger D. Wilson, 19, Felix A. Myers, 20, Donnie A. Lane, 22, Gabrielle Beach, 22 and Brandon L. Davis, 18, all of La Grange.

Thomas L. Wenz, 22, of Shelbyville, was additionally indicted on one charge of criminal gang recruitment. He pled not guilty to his charges on Dec. 19, just days after his indictment, while still incarcerated. Wenz, the last of the eight still remaining in prison, made bail and was released from prison after his arraignment.

The last individual arrested, Casey Endicott, 18, of Shelbyville is awaiting a competency hearing in district court on Jan. 29 before proceeding.

Previous charges of conspiracy to commit murder and possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, were dropped by a grand jury. During a court appearance last week, prosecutor Barry Baxter said the cocaine charges were dropped because lab tests on a substance obtained during the arrest didn’t come back positive for cocaine.

Several attorneys in the case made initial arguments for dropping more charges against their clients, based on testimony made in front of the grand jury, as well as arguments made in district court. Those could be addressed in future court appearances.

Six of the eight will return to court on March 6 for their first pre-trial conference. Wenz, who police and prosecutors say is the “ringleader” of the so-called Oldham 8, will return to court on Feb. 20.

Ullman case pushed again

The case of a man accused of raping a 14-year-old friend of his daughter is delayed again due to conflicting schedules to discuss evidence. Ricky Ullman Jr., 32, faces charges of unlawful transactions with a minor, sex act, under 16, third-degree rape and first-degree sexual abuse.

Ullman was indicted on the charges Sept. 13 and was in court last Thursday for his latest pre-trial conference. Issues over sharing of evidence in the case have delayed progress so far, attorneys said, with the holidays causing the latest disruption.

Ullman has denied the allegations, which reportedly happened June 23 at his apartment, while the victim in question was having a sleepover with Ullman’s daughter. His next court date is Feb. 6.

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