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GANG Trial dates set for four 'Soldiers'

Published: Fri, June 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.

Six juveniles were also charged with participating in a criminal gang.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Trial dates have been set in August for four of the six men accused of gang activity on the city's South Side and stretching into Boardman.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney had arraignments Thursday afternoon in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for Ricky Paige, 19, of East Dewey Avenue; Anthony Scruchen, 19, of Pasadena Avenue; Lynell Stanley, 20, of West Marion Avenue; and Donald Thompkins, 18, of Willow Creek.

All are charged with engaging in a pattern of criminal gang activity, a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum eight-year prison sentence.

Law enforcement officials say they call themselves the South Side Soldiers, and have accused them of stealing cars for fun and profit in the area of Pasadena and Dewey avenues in Youngstown and branching out into the Southern Park Mall and Movies 8 in Boardman Township.

Atty. J. Gerald Ingram represented all four for the purposes of arraignment only. Ingram and Robert E. Duffrin, an assistant county prosecutor, agreed that the bonds for all four would be set at $25,000. If they posted 10 percent of that amount, they would be released from county jail.

All four, however, said they had no money. Lawyers will be appointed at public expense to handle their cases, Sweeney said.

Their cases have been assigned to Judge R. Scott Krichbaum for trial, tentatively set for Aug. 17.

Gang leader

Police have identified Maurice Morris, 22, of East Boston Avenue, as the gang leader. He was arraigned Wednesday on the gang activity charge and three counts of receiving stolen property, charges of resisting arrest, theft, receiving an altered vehicle identification number and criminal damaging or endangering.

His bond was set at $50,000, and he is in jail. He was out on probation from Judge Jack M. Durkin's court when the crimes he is accused of committing took place April 29.

Morris and the others, including several juveniles, were arrested Wednesday. Morris' case has been assigned to Judge James C. Evans.

Duffrin said a fifth man, Jawan Knox, 19, of Pasadena Avenue, is in the Corrections Corporation of America private prison on Hubbard Road, Youngstown, awaiting sentencing on a federal firearms charge. Knox was convicted last month. Duffrin said Knox was to be arraigned today in common pleas court on the gang charge.

Thompkins ran away from a common pleas courtroom hallway to avoid arrest in early May, and served eight days in the county jail for contempt of court for doing so.

He also has pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and failure to appear.

He was to return to Judge Krichbaum for sentencing on those charges after the completion of a pre-sentence report from the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.

He faces a possible 21/2-year prison term if the judge rules the terms should be served consecutively.

Juvenile involvement

Six juveniles also were charged with participating in a criminal gang. A seventh boy faces a felonious assault charge, according to juvenile court papers.

Three of the boys were arraigned Thursday in juvenile court by Magistrate James Lowe. The magistrate said the charge against Lamar Knox, 15, of East Florida Avenue, who was scheduled for arraignment, was not filed.

Lowe referred questions about Knox to Anissa Jones, the juvenile prosecutor assigned to the case. Jones did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Knox's order of apprehension, which shows the reason for the arrest as participating in a criminal gang, was provided to The Vindicator on Wednesday. The document shows he was arrested Wednesday.


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