Wheels of Soul bikers convicted in killings, mayhem

ST. LOUIS — A federal jury on Friday convicted seven members of what prosecutors said was a dangerous, violent nationwide motorcycle gang linked to killings, robberies, drug dealing and other mayhem.

Jurors, after a seven-week trial involving testimony from more than 60 witnesses, returned guilty verdicts on charges ranging from racketeering conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and evidence tampering by the Wheels of Soul, a mixed-race club with some 400 members.

James “Animal” Smith, the group’s 66-year-old national vice president from Philadelphia, and Dominic Henley, a lawyer who served as president of the Wheels of Soul’s St. Louis chapter, were convicted of racketeering conspiracy.

Jurors also found Henley, 34, guilty of plotting to commit murder in January of last year, when prosecutors say he and five other members of the club traveled to a nightclub in nearby East St. Louis, Ill., bent on killing members of the rival Outkast OMG gang. That plan was aborted because several police officers were seen near the club.

Anthony Robinson, a 26-year-old Chicagoan, was convicted in two fatal shootings just two months apart. Jurors concluded that in January 2011, Robinson killed a person in Chicago during an altercation with the rival Street Soldiers gang, then shot three victims in the back in March of that year as they fled from a party in Marion, Ohio, killing one and seriously wounding another.

Others defendants were from Colorado and Texas, and all of them were ordered to remain jailed pending a sentencing date that was not immediately set Friday.

After an investigation spanning more than a year, an indictment returned in June of last year cast the motorcycle club as an outlaw biker gang that orchestrated violence and mayhem, including at least three killings.

The indictment described a well-organized but extraordinarily violent organization, based in Philadelphia but with branches throughout the country. A select few members of the gang achieved “1%er,” or “Diamond” status for particularly violent activity, the indictment alleged.

In 2009, according to the indictment, members allegedly shot and killed a member of the rival Sin City Titans gang in St. Louis, just weeks after a meeting in which they were told that Wheels of Soul’s “Mother Chapter” in Philadelphia had declared “open season” on the Titans.

Other accusations were breathtaking: One member allegedly stabbed another person in the head during a fight at a Chicago motorcycle club, then shot another in the stomach. The indictment said gang members were required to carry weapons, mostly guns but also hammers, knives and others.

Gang members raised money through robberies and by distributing drugs, especially crack cocaine, but also heroin, the indictment alleges.

Wheels of Soul gang members wear black vests adorned with patches on the back and commonly refer to the gang as “the Nation.” The indictment accused gang members from St. Louis of planning to extort smaller gangs by requiring them to purchase a “support patch” that demonstrates subservience to the Wheels of Soul.

More in Local News

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Aerospace workers adjust to changing industry

The number of Boeing workers dropped almost 10 percent since last year

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

A whole life ahead. Five-month-old Felix Shope lies in his stroller ready to go home from the Snohomish County Courthouse with his new mom and dad, Alicia and Josh Shope of Edmonds. A family down the hall tends to a child and are likely awaiting their own adoption proceedings. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
16 youngsters get the gift of home on National Adoption Day

A joyful day at county courthouse tempered with the great need for stable, loving homes.

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

Most Read