UPDATE: More than 50 RICO roundup suspects face judge
There weren’t enough local attorneys to represent all of the 50+ people charged, so attorneys from outside of Chattanooga were brought in.
UPDATE: Dozens of defendants were arraigned Friday in one of Hamilton County's biggest cases in state court, all part of a racketeering roundup.
Defendants were greeted with extra bailiffs and a portable metal detector outside the Division II Criminal Courtroom Friday as Judge Tom Greenholtz arraigned 44 gang members for violating the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, also known as RICO Act.
Some appeared out on bond while others were in custody or already serving time in separate cases. Some didn't appear in court at all Friday and three others are still on the run.
Greenholtz appointed attorneys for each person who appeared in court Friday, bringing in outside lawyers to avoid a conflict of interest with the large number of defendants.
All are charged with racketeering and conspiracy but seven are also charged in five homicides.
Criminal Court Clerk Vince Dean worked with the Chattanooga Police Department for 27 years. He helped create the state's RICO Act when he became state representative and said it covers a broad spectrum of criminal law.
"Illegal drugs, sell of guns, the hiring of people to commit acts that are illegal. If they are in that business for profit, they can be charged as a group under the RICO act," Dean said.
If convicted, the gang members will face Class B Felonies.
They could serve up to 12 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Most of the cases are due back in court on July 30.
PREVIOUS STORY: The more than 50 people charged in a RICO roundup went before a judge in Hamilton County court Friday morning.
The gang members are being charged under Tennesee's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, also known as RICO, and modeled after the federal act bearing the same name.
The original group of indictments were handed down March 28, and many of the suspects have been arrested.
There weren’t enough local attorneys to represent the more than 50 people charged, so attorneys from outside of Chattanooga were brought in.
Additional security measures were used as well at the courtroom entrance.
PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 is learning new information about the more than 50 gang members indicted in March.
Fifty-four people were charged in that roundup.
A court hearing for 51 of those arrested is set for Friday.
Three others are still on the run.
According to district attorney's office, the indictment was connected to a violation of the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, known as the RICO Act.
Six people who were part of the roundup were already in custody in other jail systems when the charges came down.
The six suspects were booked in Hamilton County on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s hearing.
Channel 3 will have a crew at the hearing, bringing you the latest.
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