Tag Archive: Greensboro

Fourth Circuit rejects appeal by jailed Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell

kingjayFrom Triad City Beat/ By Jordan Green

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down an appeal by North Carolina Latin Kings Leader Jorge Cornell, his brother and fellow Latin Kings member Russell Kilfoil and an associate named Ernesto Wilson.

The three-judge panel that heard the case in Richmond, Va. earlier this year upheld the judgment of the district court based on finding no reversible error. Summarizing the arguments of Cornell and his co-defendants, Judge Steven Agee wrote that the defendants made “several assertions of error concerning their trial, primarily focusing on the district court’s jury instructions and the sufficiency of the evidence.”

The opinion was published on March 16, less than two months after the judges heard arguments from the defendants’ lawyers and federal prosecutors.

Cornell, also known as King Jay, received a sentence of 28 years in prison after being found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, along with additional charges of violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Both of the latter charges were related to an April 2008 assault in which the government alleged that Cornell ordered Latin Kings members to retaliate against a supposed rival.

Cornell professed his innocence during his sentencing hearing, and said he never ordered any of his members to commit any act of violence. He said he kicked out members who committed crimes. Several community leaders testified about Cornell’s efforts to promote reconciliation among street gangs, encourage his members to pursue education and vocational development, and wide-ranging social justice efforts. The federal appellate opinion issued on March 16 provides a contrasting characterization of the Latin Kings: “Central to the organization is a culture of violence, which is manifested through frequent disputes with rival gangs. Violence and the threat of violence are also used to maintain compliance with gang rules.” (more…)

Government rebuked for excluding witness in Latin Kings trial

Jay-NPRFrom Triad City Beat

A federal appellate judge finds fault with the government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness in the trial of former Latin King leader Jorge Cornell, but a panel of judges is less sympathetic to arguments about the role of interstate commerce and instructions for the jury to continue deliberating.

A federal appellate judge for the Fourth Circuit sharply criticized the federal government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness from the 2012 trial of former North Carolina Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell.

Judge Robert B. King, who was appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton, bristled when US Attorney Sonja Ralston argued that the court’s opinion in the 1999 case United States v. Rhynes on the matter of witness exclusion was “fractured.”

Ralston’s characterization slighted a ruling on witness exclusion handed down by the very court hearing the appeal of Cornell’s criminal racketeering conviction.

“It was eight to two,” riposted King, who wrote the opinion in the 1999 case. “That’s not very fractured.” (more…)

A kid in King Jay’s court: My life with the Latin Kings

kingjayFrom Triad City Beat/ by Eric Ginsburg

My friends tell me that I take too long to tell stories. They ask when I start a story whether this will be like “Pebbles,” the infamously long report I provided during our first semester of college about a hangout with a crush that involved tossing pebbles, but didn’t include even a kiss. “Don’t give us the Pebbles version,” they say. “Just tell us what happened.”

I still find myself in the middle of unnecessarily long stories with some frequency. I’m particularly self conscious about it when trying to explain the most complicated and unusual part of my life. It’s often easier just to avoid telling it altogether.

That’s why most people don’t really know the whole story of my relationship to the Almighty Latin King & Queen Nation and its leader, except for maybe those who were there.

How could a white kid from Massachusetts at a small, private college in the South end up being so close to a Latino “gang leader” with teardrop tattoos on his face, a man now serving almost three decades in federal prison? It was a lot easier than I expected, actually, and if you’ll give me the time to explain, it’s actually a pretty good story. (more…)

My life as a Latin King

L-kingFrom Indy Week

by Steaphan Acencio-Vasquez and John H. Tucker

This past August, after a multiyear federal investigation, nine North Carolina men affiliated with the Latin Kings were sentenced for various crimes under the Racketeer Influenced or Corrupt Organizations Act, or “RICO,” a prosecutorial hammer enacted in 1970 in response to Mafia enterprises.

The Latin Kings case drew intense media attention when it went to trial last year. One of the convicted men, Jorge Cornell, aka King Jay, doubled as a community organizer. He had previously campaigned for Greensboro City Council, running on a social justice platform.

In 2007, when he was 16, Raleigh resident Steaphan Acencio-Vasquez, aka King Lio, was convicted of armed robbery and went to state prison. Four years later, a federal grand jury indicted Acencio-Vasquez, Cornell and 12 other men for RICO crimes dating to 2006. Acencio-Vasquez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct or participate in a racketeering enterprise, but he refused to cooperate with prosecutors or testify against others during trial. This past August, after five years in state custody, he was sentenced to three and a half more years in federal prison.

Through email correspondence, Acencio-Vasquez, now 22, opened up about the Latin Kings, prison life and his thoughts on RICO.


I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 26, 1990. I started out pretty good, but I had a bad anger issue. When I was 6 or 7, I smacked a nun after she hit me with a ruler. I was eating some M&M’s, and the ruler was the punishment. But I was taught to defend myself and my family. (more…)

The County Shuffle

Russell KilfoilFrom ALKQN Support

Russell Kilfoil, King Peaceful was recently sentenced yet remains in county lockup. Currently he is being held at Orange County Jail until he is either transferred to another county jail or onto a federal facility.

Russell Kilfoil 
Orange County’s Detention Facility
125 Court Street, Hillsborough NC, 27278
 

Please drop a letter in the mailbox!

King Peaceful sentenced to 15 years

Russell KilfoilFrom ALKQN Support

Russell “King Peaceful” Kilfoil was sentenced to 15 years today in the Middle District of North Carolina.  The Judge shaved off some years from the US Attorney’s maximum recommendation.  Kilfoil received less than the recommended time due to his own efforts and life experiences.  Though the Feds were able to place Kilfoil in a leadership role of the NC ALKQN, for the purpose of gaining a stiffer conviction, and to further demonize Kilfoil and the NC ALKQN, on the actions of others, we hope that Kilfoil feels that even though 15 years is a long time the feds did not take his life.

A slightly more colorful report of today’s sentencing can be read on the Yes Weekly blog, (more…)

Jorge Cornell sentenced to 28 years

kingjayFrom Yes! Weekly

North Carolina Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell leader received a sentence of 28 years in federal prison for criminal racketeering on Wednesday, with a federal judge in Winston-Salem noting the defendant’s “good works and ethics” before granting a variance from sentencing guidelines.

The statutory maximum of 50 years would likely have amounted to a life sentence for the 36-year-old Cornell, who suffers from high blood pressure and sleep apnea. The sentencing guidelines set a minimum of 30 years. US District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr. consolidated two counts of racketeering against Cornell, including one related to the defendant’s alleged role in a shooting at Maplewood apartments for a total of 18 years. A third count, also related to the Maplewood shooting, of violent crime in aid of racketeering carried a mandatory minimum of 10 years.

Cornell spoke extensively before receiving the sentence, telling the court he doesn’t hold faith in the justice system although he expects the verdicts to be overturned on appeal. (more…)

Earth First! Journal Collective Weekend Tour: Aug 16 & 17 Debate & Workshops

brigid2013coverFrom Croatan Earth First!

On Friday August 16th Internationalist Books  in Chapel Hill will host a debate/discussion at 6 p.m. regarding the new zineThe Issues Are Not The Issue” with the author (former EF!er)  and organizers from Everglades & Katuah Earth First!

On Saturday Aug 17th, come out from 2-5 p.m. at Internationalist Bookstore at 405 W. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill for the “Earth Nightly News​​”​ program and Independent Media Workshop with editors from the Earth First! Journal Collective out of Lake Worth, Florida and the Appalachian office in Western NC. Find out how you can get involved in EF! Media projects and more. Participants will discuss where they get their news, which forms are most used, and how under-reported events and organizing can get more attentions through alternative press.

The Earth First! Journal has been a circulating printed newspaper and magazine for over 32 years. As the voice of the international direct action movement, the EF! Journal Collective maintains a number of media projects to help communicate the actions and ecological news to the world. Join us for a presentation, live news program and discussion about reading, writing and producing independent media. (more…)

UNDER SURVEILLANCE PART 2: the NAACP and working with other agencies

This week’s cover story about Greensboro police surveillance of activists is long, so long in fact that we had to cut two entire sections out to make it fit. Here they are in full:
NAACP
The civil rights organization has worked closely with the Beloved Community Center and Latin King leader Jorge Cornell over the years, but a request on the NAACP turned up a minimal amount of criminal intelligence.
One of the few mentions came from former Captain Charles Cherry, who alleged that, “Councilman Matheny in a August 23, 2010 e-mail directed the GPD to look for ways to charge NAACP members, because the citizens complained to Mr. Matheny.” Cherry, who says he was fired from the department for helping officers file complaints of discrimination, also claimed in the same message that Chief Miller intimidated an NAACP member. (more…)

UNDER SURVEILLANCE: How Greensboro police monitor activists

Officers Steven Kory Flowers (left) and Rob Finch (right)

Officers Steven Kory Flowers (left) and Rob Finch (right)

From Yes Weekly!

By Eric Ginsberg

Anyone who has ever been involved in grassroots organizing, a social movement or activism has probably wondered at least once, if not frequently, about if they are being watched. Though police surveillance is no secret — uniformed officers regularly videotape legal protests, for example — what happens with the intelligence is usually a mystery to the public. (more…)