A 16-year-old Warren County teenager accused of participating in a criminal gang and recruiting others for the Crips street gang in West Chester Twp. will remain behind bars until a June pre-trial hearing.
The boy appeared before Butler County Court Magistrate John Bruewer Wednesday on charges of robbery, participating in criminal gangs, improper furnishing of firearms to a minor and felonious assault.
His attorney David Washington said his client denies all charges. The boy’s mother and step-father were also in the courtroom.
All declined comment after the short hearing.
Bruewer ordered the teen to stay in Butler County Juvenile Detention Center until he appears before Judge Kathleen Romans on June 5.
Charges came earlier this month after the boy’s home, in a gated community off Butler-Warren Road in Warren County, was searched for evidence of criminal activity and the L.A.- based gang, also known as the Hoover Crips.
Butler County complaints allege the teen has been a member of the Crips since July 2015, helped recruit for and communicate with leaders of the gang and engaged in crimes including drug trafficking, robbery and criminal damaging.
The teen was on law enforcement’s radar first in July 30, 2016, when a person reported to Mason Police that he punched him at a party, according to the court document. The teen made references to the victim that he was involved in a gang and sent text messages holding a gun and pointing it at the camera.
Detectives said in the affidavit that the boy’s mother said her son, although claiming to be a member of the gang, actually was not.
During the 2015-2016 school year while the teen was a student in the Lakota School district, two students reported to an officer that the teen claimed to be a member of the Hoover Crips and attempted to recruit them into a gang, according to the affidavit.
In incidents in West Chester Twp., he is alleged to have been a part of the damaging of a vehicle on March 16 in West Chester Twp. and spraying graffiti on the car linked to Hoover Crips, was one of at least four attackers who participated in an assault on April 18 and assisted another 16-year-old in the purchase of a .380-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun on April 13. On Jan. 15, he allegedly beat a victim until he was paid $100.
West Chester Twp. police said gang activity is not something they typically see in the township.
“This is a type of situation we do not encounter often, but it is one we take very seriously,” said Capt. Joe Gutman, adding such activities are investigated by the department’s Special Investigations Unit.
He declined further comment because the case in ongoing.
In an affidavit justifying the search of the teen’s home in Palmera Apartment Homes in Deerfield Twp., one of the detectives involved in the Butler County investigation allege the boy recruited for the Crips in West Chester Twp. and had been involved in a chain of illegal acts dating back several years in both counties in an affidavit for the search warrant.
Gang-related communications indicating exchanges with other members of the Crips were found on the teen’s cellphone, according to the affidavit.
The teen was adjudicated in Warren County Juvenile Court for attempted drug trafficking, stemming from an arrest during the Butler County investigation. He completed 30 hours of community service and credited with eight days spent in Butler County Juvenile Detention Center. The rest of a 30-day detention was suspended, according to court records.
This story contains previous reporting by Staff Writer Lawrence Budd
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