Today, a federal jury in Detroit convicted two members of the violent Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club, one of whom also was a member of the Vice Lords street gang, on separate crimes of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and a firearms offense.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Detroit Field Division and Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Division made the announcement.
“The dismantling of the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club demonstrates how law enforcement authorities and community members can work hand-in-hand to combat gang violence across the nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “In this case, law enforcement unquestionably saved lives by making a wave of arrests to prevent a planned nationwide campaign of violence against a rival motorcycle gang. The verdict in this case holds violent gang members accountable for the destruction they inflicted and the havoc they intended to wreak.”
“The Detroit One initiative targets criminal gang members like these defendants, who are responsible for gun violence in neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney McQuade. “We hope that removing dangerous trigger pullers will give our communities the peaceful quality of life we all deserve.”
“ATF works every day with our partners to take the most violent offenders off our streets and put them behind bars,” said Special Agent in Charge S. Robin Shoemaker. “Without partnership, without standing up against the violence, no public safety issues can be solved. ATF is committed to this fight, and committed to working together to keep our citizen safe and our communities livable.”
“The defendants in this case were active members of violent criminal groups, one of which was based in Detroit and operated across numerous, and sometimes distant, states,” said Special Agent in Charge Abbate. “These convictions reflect our continuing resolve through interstate cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to prevent violent crime regardless of how far its reach may extend.”
The jury convicted the defendants of the following offenses:
Christopher Odum (aka Murder), 29, of Detroit, a member of the Detroit chapters of both the Phantoms and the Vice Lords, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
William Frazier (aka Daytona), 37, of Auburn Hills, the Vice President of the Pontiac, Michigan, chapter of the Phantoms, was convicted of two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and one count of using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The evidence showed that the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club and its members were involved in a range of criminal activity including conspiracy to commit murder, shootings, robberies, extortion and the possession and sale of stolen vehicles and motorcycles. The evidence also showed overlap between the leadership of the Phantoms and membership in the Vice Lords street gang, which assisted the Phantoms in various criminal endeavors, including searching for and violently attacking rivals of the Phantoms.
Specifically, the evidence at trial demonstrated that, on Oct. 27, 2012, at the Columbus, Ohio clubhouse of the Toros Motorcycle Club, a fight took place between the Phantoms and the Zulus Motorcycle Club, a rival gang. During the fight, William Frazier, a Phantom member, shot two men.
The evidence at trial also showed that, on Sept. 8, 2013, Antonio Johnson, who was both the National President of the Phantoms and the “Three-Star General” over the Vice Lords in Michigan, ordered numerous Phantoms, including Christopher Odum, to rob the Satan Sidekicks Motorcycle Club, a rival motorcycle club. During the attempted robbery, a Phantom member, Bryan Sorrell (aka PC) shot a Satan Sidekick member in the face. A few days later, Odum and another Phantom violently assaulted a prospective member of the Satan Sidekicks during another attempted robbery at a gas station.
Additionally, according to the evidence presented at trial, Johnson blamed the Hell Lovers Outlaw Motorcycle Club for a September 2013 murder of a Phantoms member, and ordered retaliatory murders that were to be carried out in three phases. In the first phase, the Phantoms were to murder at least three members of the Hell Lovers in Detroit in order to lure additional Hell Lovers to Michigan for the funeral. In the second phase, the Phantoms were to murder all members of the Hell Lovers who would be at the Hell Lovers’ Detroit clubhouse following the funeral. In the third phase, the Phantoms were to kill Hell Lovers in other cities throughout the country where the Phantoms had chapters. In October 2013, ATF and FBI agents disrupted the mass murder plot. At trial, the government presented evidence that, at the time that investigators disrupted the murder plot, the Phantoms were preparing for the first phase, including stockpiling firearms, conducting research and surveillance of their intended victims, and assigning Phantom members and Vice Lords members to stalk and murder the intended victims. Odum participated in the murder plot.
This was the second of two recent trials in the prosecution of the Phantoms. On March 16, 2015, a jury convicted six leaders and members of the Phantoms, many of whom also were leaders and members of the Vice Lords, for various crimes, including the September – October 2013 murder plot against the Hell Lovers and the September 2013 shooting of the Satan Sidekicks member. Among those six convicted defendants were Johnson and Marvin Nicholson, who was both the National Enforcer of the Phantoms and a member of the Vice Lords. The charges included RICO conspiracy involving murder, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, firearms offenses, and assault on federal officers. In addition, four defendants previously have pleaded guilty to charges, including RICO conspiracy and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and await sentencing.
The arrests in this case were made as part of the Detroit One Initiative, a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit, and through the lead efforts of the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership Task Force, which consists of representatives of the ATF, Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections and the FBI. By working collaboratively, local, state and federal law enforcement are striving to maximize their ability to identify and arrest the persons and groups initiating the violence in Detroit. These convictions are a tangible and significant result of this joint effort.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Louis Gabel of the Eastern District of Michigan.