I have often been mystified by nicknames, and have actually written about the prevalence of such literal nom de guerres among the most horrific of the New Orleans urban street gangs. Then just yesterday came two more examples of the phenomenon, on two sides of the law, one shedding a substantive light on the other. I feel the need to examine the subject again in light of these two recent occurrences.
My attention was first caught by a report of a dozen men charged in a 20-count federal indictment that alleged their involvement in a gang that authorities believe is responsible for drug trafficking and extreme violence, including murder for hire and murder for recreation.
This men charged in the racketeering indictment, are all members of a felonious group called Ride or Die:
Deloyd “Puggy” Jones, 21
Byron “Big Baby” Jones, 23
Sidney “Duda Man” Patterson, 22
Ervin “Nerky” Spooner, 25
Romalis “Ro Ro” Parker, 20
Nyson “Nycie” Jones, 29
“Tre” Clements, 22
Andrealie “Noot” Lewis, 34
Tyone “Peanut” Burton, 20
Tyron “Man Man” Burton, 19
Perry “Yummy” Wilson, 22
and Morris Summers, 22, who does not seem to have any associated quotation marks in his name as listed in the official criminal document. He must truly feel deprived. Once the federal government has legally allowed that a criminal is to be called “Yummy”, that person must indeed have a sense of fulfillment. Possibly going so far as to have “Yummy” embroidered on his designer prison-wear, rather than a number.
Most of Morris’ eleven nicknamed accomplices are charged either with a specific murder and/or Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations conspiracy; conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, heroin and marijuana; conspiracy to possess firearms during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking; multiple counts of causing death through the use of a firearm; assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; and multiple counts of use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking.
No gentle dispositions among the members of the group, any one of them. And they were allegedly armed to the gold-plated teeth.
Further, and most unfortunately, the area where Ride or Die operated is said to be bordered by North Miro Street, St. Claude Avenue, Elysian Fields Avenue and Franklin Avenue, according to court documents. The easternmost border of this territory is only three blocks from my home. That does not make me feel comfortable.
Plus, the Federal investigators are also targeting members of three other close-by gangs: the 110ers, 3-N-G, and The Taliban. Literally and proudly naming themselves and their career choices after the enemies of civilization. Again, discomfort is the prevalent mode.
So these are the Bad Guys.
And what are the Good Guys doing? Today’s “New Orleans Advocate” tells the story:
“The Louisiana Supreme Court agreed Friday to reinstate the law license of former Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge C. Hunter King, who was kicked off the bench in 2003, then disbarred in 2010 for forcing staffers to raise campaign cash and lying about it under oath.
“The court booted King from the bench four years into his first term. King then pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy to commit public payroll fraud. He served six months’ probation and later had the conviction expunged.”
It seems the judge, AKA “the Kingfish”, mounted a serious series of debts getting himself into office, hired relatives and people who had helped him in the election, but then demanded that each of them sell twenty $250 tickets to a fundraiser to benefit his electoral bank account. Court records show that he told his employees that if they couldn’t sell all the tickets they were given, they would have to make up the difference from their salaries.
The first complaint against him came from his former court reporter, who claimed she was fired for her refusal to sell the tickets. King denied her accusations to law enforcement officials and the courts, but quickly recanted when he found out that the reporter had actually audiotaped the meetings where he made those exact demands.
Those tapes, handed over to court officials, revealed that King also sold tickets at a funeral, even though he seemed to be able to morally justify the matter to himself:
“Now, a funeral clearly ain’t no place where you hustle no damn tickets, but we did it tactful and I don’t think it was unappropriate (sic) because we may not see that guy, Billy, whatever his name was,” he told his staff. “We may not see him again between now and our fundraiser.”
To me, this sounded very much like the same sort of morality utilized by members of Ride or Die. He may not have been taking lives, but his base values seem much in line with those exhibited by the gang. Basically, none.
When caught, the Kingfish immediately pulled the race card.
On December 3, 2003, King appeared in criminal court to file dual motions, which Judge Julian Parker granted as the final part of a plea bargain crafted by King’s defense team and then-District Attorney Eddie Jordan, who had resigned under pressure for his proven incompetence in office on October 30.
Instead of facing trial on fraud and perjury charges, Jordan and Parker allowed King to plead guilty only to the conspiracy charge. The deal also allowed for the expungement of the crime from his record after a certain period of time, and the payment of a $275 processing fee.
During the May hearing when the plea deal was approved, Judge Parker told former-judge King that he had been a victim of racism and set up by state investigators:
“‘I’m not saying what you did was right; it was wrong,’ Parker said from the bench. “But you got set up. They set up President Clinton.”
Parker also reminded King of the saying, “When a black man scores a touchdown, they change the rules.” Parker, Jordan and King are all black. None of them supposedly played football.
King was disbarred in 2010 from practicing law by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which ruled that “We find the applicable baseline standard in this matter is disbarment ... Honesty is a minimum qualification expected of every judge,” the court said in a unanimous decision to remove King from the bench.
Then this past Friday an about-face. That same Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, now declared the “Kingfish” was rehabilitated, that it had found “clear and convincing evidence” that King has complied with the criteria for readmission to the practice of law, which include recognizing “the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct” and having the “requisite honesty and integrity to practice law,” among others.
The court added conditions, however, demanding that King complete an ethics program and ordering a monitor to watch over him during a yearlong probationary period. Two justices dissented, recommending his continued ban from practicing law, but that did not stop the order.
Hunter still lists himself as a Judge on his Linked-in page, and purports that The King Firm deals in real-estate. Hopefully it was not yet dealing with the legal aspects of that calling before the Court’s ruling.
For his inept traveling of the moral and political high road to reformation, the site NOEthics.net awarded King yet another nickname: “Dumbo”.
Maybe the gentlemen of Ride or Die -- “Puggy” and “Big Baby”, “Duda Man”, “Nerky” and “Ro Ro” -- will request that they also be allowed to complete an ethics program in lieu of imprisonment or execution. And then be allowed to expunge their records. At least of the most capital crimes.
Or maybe they will want to request that, like politicians, they simply be given better nicknames and allowed to remain at-large.