Former city council candidate, 12 others indicted on federal charges

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Jorge Cornell after a hearing in federal court in Greensboro Tuesday (WGHP)

Thirteen people, including a Greensboro City Council candidate the past two elections, have been indicted on federal racketeering charges in connection with gang activity.

The suspects were indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 29, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release Tuesday.

At a federal hearing in Greensboro Tuesday, the judge read the suspects their rights and appointed an attorney for each of them. Their detention hearings were set for Dec. 13.

All are alleged to be members of the Latin Kings gang, which has been in North Carolina since at least 2005, DOJ officials said. The gang’s traditional centerpieces are in Chicago and New York.

The indictment alleges the gang committed crimes such as armed robberies, kidnappings, arsons and assaults to keep their racketeering scheme going.

Read the federal indictment

The suspected ringleader, Jorge Peter Cornell, 35, ran for Greensboro City Council both this year and in 2009.

DOJ officials allege Cornell was the ringleader of not only the Greensboro chapter of the gang but also the Charlotte, Durham and Raleigh chapters.

The indictment also alleges Cornell publicly advocated to dissolve the Greensboro Police Department’s gang unit while simultaneously plotting to murder and assault members of both his own gang and rival gangs.

In 2008, Cornell held press conferences calling for peace and an end to racism. However, the indictment alleges the public relations campaign was intended “to falsely portray the Latin Kings as a public service organization.”

During those conferences, he worked with community and religious leaders, including Rev. Nelson Johnson with both Faith Community Church and the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro. Johnson attended the indictment hearings Tuesday but declined to comment outside the courthouse.

Cornell’s roommate, Latin Queen Tracy Weyman, and her daughter, Sara Wallis, were among the supporters at Tuesday’s hearing. They believe the local version of the gang is being sought out by investigators based on the gang’s past in other parts of the country.

“If he was trying to do bad in this community, he would not try to stand up for racism and falsely convicted people,” Wallis said.

Supporters and gang members said the group is like family, and they will work to clear the suspects’ names.

“We are always together. We have barbecues. We have a good sight of this community. We don’t do anything that is bad here,” Wallis said.

Greensboro Police said they had to defer comments on the case to federal DOJ officials.

Below is a full listing of those charged in the indictment:

– JORGE PETER CORNELL, 35, a.k.a. “King Jay”
– RUSSELL LLOYD KILFOIL, 25, a.k.a. “King Peaceful” and “Jonathan Hernandez”
– RANDOLPH LEIF KILFOIL, 26, a.k.a. “King Paul”
– JASON PAUL YATES, 31, a.k.a. “King Squirrel”
– LUIS ALBERTO ROSA, 24, a.k.a. “King Speechless”
– WESLEY ANDERSON WILLIAMS, 19, a.k.a. “King Bam”
– STEAPHAN ACENCIO-VASQUEZ, 20, a.k.a. “King Leo”
– MARCELO YSRAEL PEREZ, 26, a.k.a. “King Lyrix”and “King Sacrifice”
– SAMUEL ISAAC VELASQUEZ, 22, a.k.a. “King Hype”
– CHARLES LAWRENCE MOORE, 26, a.k.a. “King Toasty”
– RICHARD LEE ROBINSON, 22, a.k.a. “King Focus”
– IRVIN VASQUEZ, 22, a.k.a. “King Dice”- CARLOS COLEMAN, 19, a.k.a. “King Spanky”

All but Perez had been arrested as of Tuesday afternoon.