Feds indict NWI lawyer Peteet as part of sweeping gang case
by Lori Caldwell and Ruth Ann Krause firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3258 June 22, 2012 12:31PM
Attorney Jerry Peteet in 2010. | Provided Photo~Sun Times Media
Updated: June 22, 2012 9:10PM
HAMMOND — Gary defense attorney Jerry “Angel” Peteet appeared in federal court Friday not as a litigator, but as a defendant facing multiple charges related to his association with the Wheels of Soul motorcycle club.
Federal agents arrested Peteet, 49, of 649 Taft St., Gary, Friday morning at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point.
Wearing handcuffs and snakeskin boots, the usually bouyant Peteet was subdued as he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Andrew P. Rodovich.
His pants sagged — his belt was removed after his arrest — and his partially unbuttoned shirt revealed a chest tattoo.
A 36-page superceding indictment filed in the Eastern Missouri U.S. District Court in St. Louis charges Peteet with racketeering, attempted murder in the act of racketeering and witness tampering. Three other club members face similar charges.
Agents from the ATF and FBI took him into custody as he arrived at the county courthouse to represent clients. Court security officers assisted the agents by confirming Peteet’s identity.
The federal case stems in part from a shooting more than three years ago in Gary.
Peteet was charged with battery with a deadly weapon in March 2010, for the May 8, 2009 shooting of Robert Taylor, 42.
Lake County prosecutors dismissed the case Jan. 4.
Peteet’s lawyer, Darnail Lyles, blasted federal prosecutors for taking three years to file these charges.
“How many bites out of the apple do you get?” Lyles said. “How long does a professional have to deal with this? The guy is trying to make a living practicing law.”
The shooting occurred when Peteet and Taylor were attending “bike night” at the Diamond Club Center at the now-shuttered Bennigan’s adjacent to U.S. Steel Yard in downtown Gary.
Taylor, a member of the Sin City Desciples motorcycle club, was selling tickets to the group’s annual cabaret.
When Taylor approached Peteet and another man, they asked him to join their club.
Sources say Peteet was a former member of the Desciples, then joined Wheels of Soul.
Taylor told Gary Detectives Cpl. Edward Gonzalez and James Bond that he was walking away from Peteet when he was shot in the hip.
After the Lake County case was dismissed, sources said it was because federal authorities were were investigating the shooting and alleged criminal activities involving Peteet and the Wheels of Soul.
Lyles said that his client was “shocked” upon his arrest, thinking that once the case was dismissed early this year, the incident was behind him.
In February 2010, Wheels of Soul members were at a party in Portage with representatives from at least three other motorcycle clubs. Police raided the party and recovered several weapons.
The federal case involving the Wheels of Soul motorcycle club began after gang-related crimes in St. Louis in 2009. Eleven of the original defendants have pleaded guilty. A trial is scheduled for October in St. Louis for seven defendants from the original indictment.
Prosecutors described the gang, based in Philadelphia with branches throughout the U.S., as well-organized and extremely violent. Authorities say the gang distributed crack cocaine and heroin and committed robberies to raise money. They also blame the gang in at least three homicide cases.
Peteet was released on an unsecured $20,000 bond, and he has an arraignment scheduled next week in St. Louis.
Others besides Peteet indicted Friday were:
• Anthony “Pharaoh” Owens, 23, of Chicago, charged with two counts of accessory to murder and tampering with evidence.
• Curtis “Tomahawk” Cole, 33, of Camden, N.J., charged in a January 2011 robbery and killing in Chicago.
• Trevor “Cyclopse” Seymour, 42, of Chicago, charged with conspiring with other gang members to commit murder in 2009, and with kidnapping a member of another biker gang in January 2010.
Reporter Maria Amante and the Associated Press contributed to this story.