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Jury convicts members of Western Addition gang of racketeering, murders

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Five members of a San Francisco gang known as Central Divisadero Playas were convicted by a federal jury in the city Monday of charges including racketeering, murder and murder conspiracy.

All five defendants in the 14-week trial in the court of U.S. District Judge William Orrick were convicted of racketeering conspiracy and racketeering, or participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise through the Western Addition-based gang. The convictions carry a sentence up to life or life in prison.

Two men were additionally convicted of murders in aid of racketeering and face mandatory life sentences.

Charles Heard, 33, was convicted of the Aug. 14, 2008, murders of Isaiah Turner, 34, and Andre Helton, 18, who were found fatally shot in a car outside the University of San Francisco.

Jaquain Young, 44, was found guilty of murdering Jelvon Helton, 22, who was Andre Helton’s brother. Jelvon Helton was fatally shot at a bar in the Marina District just before midnight on Nov. 1, 2010.

Young was also convicted of attempting to entice a minor to engage in prostitution and attempting to persuade an individual to travel over state lines to engage in prostitution in 2012 and 2013.

The other defendants convicted of racketeering were Adrian Gordon, 29; Esau Ferdinand, 35; and Monzell Harding Jr., 26.

All five men were also convicted of using guns in crimes of violence, and Gordon was additionally found guilty of attempting to murder an unidentified victim on May 20, 2011.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

The five men were among 11 defendants named in a second superseding indictment in the case in August 2014.

The remaining six defendants will be tried in a trial scheduled to begin in Orrick’s court on July 11.

The second group of defendants includes Barry Gilton and Lupe Mercado, whose 17-year-old daughter was allegedly pimped by a Compton man, Calvin Sneed. The couple is accused along with Gilton’s cousin, Antonio Gilton, and Alfonzo Williams of murdering Sneed.

Sneed was shot in the head as he was driving in the city’s Bayview District early in the morning of June 4, 2012.

All the defendants in the second group except Mercado are charged with racketeering conspiracy. Defendant Reginald Elmore is charged with joining Heard in the murders of Andre Helton and Isaiah Turner.

The gang has been in existence since the 1990s and is also known as Central Divisadero Players, Central Divis Playas and CDP, according to the indictment. Its members allegedly engaged in murders, assaults, extortion, cocaine dealing, pimping and illegal gun possession.

In a separate state court case, Heard was convicted in San Francisco Superior Court of the 2008 shooting murder of Richard Barrett, 29, outside a North Beach nightclub while trying to steal Barrett’s jeweled pendant depicting the Flintstones character Bamm-Bamm. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

-Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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