Long sentence for kid’s gang ties? The rest of the story . . .

Tue, 12/09/2008 - 4:52pm
By: John Munford

A former Fayette County High School student who last week admitted to being a member of the Crips gang also had recruited a middle school student into the gang, said Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard.

Andre Scott, 18, was sentenced last week to four years in prison for participating in criminal gang activity.

Ballard said Scott had recruited a student at Fayette County Middle School to join the Crips gang. That student was “beaten in” to the gang, meaning he was beaten up without being able to defend himself for a specified period of time.

Scott said he didn’t think the beat-in lasted for more than a minute.

“He was recruiting a middle school student and that’s just not something we’re going to tolerate,” Ballard said.

During the brief trial prosecutors played a video that was posted on Scott’s MySpace webpage which showed Scott and others in a bedroom waving a gun around and pointing it at one another. A second video on the page was of the fight that Scott orchestrated in a restroom at Fayette County High School, Ballard said.

Ballard said it was evident that Scott orchestrated the fight because when the fighting stopped briefly, he told the participants to begin fighting again.

The fight was between a Crips member who had lost his “rank” in the gang because a girl tore up his bandanna on a school bus.

Bandannas are traditionally used by gangs as an identifying symbol, and they call them “flags.”

Another Fayette County student who was a recruiter for the Bloods gang and participated in the fight got four years to serve in a youth detention center, Ballard said.

Unlike Scott, who can get out on parole before his full sentence is served, the juvenile will not be able to get out early because there is no parole mechanism in juvenile court.

Another student who participated in the bathroom fight was sentenced to two years in juvenile detention, Ballard said.

Ballard said one of the juveniles prosecuted in the case received a death threat from the Southside Mafia, a gang reputed to have taken hold in Clayton County. There were reasons to take the death threat seriously, Ballard noted.

Ballard noted that his office has taken criticism for dropping charges against the only white teenager seen in the video of the bathroom fight. That student was wearing red, an initial sign of being in the Bloods’ gang, and was using his cellphone in the bathroom, Ballard said.

But it turned out that student was actually on the phone with his mother, a fact confirmed by checking his cellphone records, Ballard said.

Ballard said one thing that handcuffs his office from prosecuting gang cases is the lack of a way to protect witnesses. Because gangs often threaten harm to convince witnesses not to testify, it can hurt prosecution of the gang members because testimony is often needed to prove the defendant is in a gang, Ballard said.

During the trial, Scott’s attorney noted how he completed high school at another school despite the pending criminal case. It was also noted that Scott is attending the Atlanta Art Institute and another school to further his education while holding two jobs.

Defense attorney Rodney Williams said he has represented a number of gang members in court cases, but his experience was if Scott was a real gang member he wouldn’t have bothered to finish high school.

Judge Paschal A. English asked Scott several questions, including how many “Crips” gang members there are in Fayette County. Scott said he thought there were seven or eight.

Scott said he didn’t orchestrate the fight to take place at FCHS but said he was in the bathroom “to watch the fight.”

When asked how to keep gangs out of Fayette County, Scott replied that making sure kids get an education is important so they can learn to make the right decisions.

Scott’s father is imprisoned in California and his mother moved him away from the state when he was 8 in an effort to escape gangs, a defense attorney told the court.

“Some of this has been around him since he’s been growing up,” Williams said, referring to the gang lifestyle.

Williams said Scott used the Internet to download the “gang bibles” he was accused of distributing to two students.

No witnesses were called for the prosecution during the trial as Scott’s defense attorneys stipulated to many facts in the case.

In return for those stipulations, prosecutors agreed to drop three of the four charges against Scott: two for participating in a criminal street gang and one for disrupting a public school. Of those charges, one was for beating up another youth as a gang initiation and the other was for organizing the gang.

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Submitted by mysteryman on Mon, 12/22/2008 - 9:58pm.

Send them packing for the big ride, if you want to be a gangster let them be in jail. 4yrs not long enough, all that amounts to is sending them to galdiator school to complete theyre apprenticeship and gain street cred so to say. Will not be long before we read about this person again when they are released into our community with a score to settle after 4yrs of pressing weights on our dime.. Awesome make you proud to be an american...GOD BLESS...

Submitted by tommie on Fri, 12/12/2008 - 10:32pm.

Up until this point I have been notified of these ads and write-ups and have viewed most of the comments from the communities about this case. I respect the participation and concern of everyone’s point of view. As a newspaper you are obligated to write a story and give the public the truth. I viewed the same tape that everyone viewed. My question to the person reporting this story is? 1. Did you see the video? 2. In what part of the video did you see Andre Scott holding a gun in his hand? As you clearly and legibly wrote: This is a very good indication on what this case has been built on from the beginning. He says, she says. Defamation of character is very important in a situation like this, it puts my son in danger when the truth is fabricated. Just as it was written that there was a beat down at Fayette County High, a fight that he was not in. You state that his father is in prison. What prison is he in? You mentioned a threat being made. Is this from phone taps, wiretaps, and documents? Or from kids talking and wanting to be important at my son’s expense? I always taught and instilled in him, if you do well, good will come to you. If you tell the truth the truth always prevail. It was written that Andre was kick out of Fayette County High. When was he kicked out of school? the transcripts I hold don’t read that? What I see with these articles is that you have a young man that happened to be in the bathroom during a fight. What do you actually no as fact accept him being in the bathroom? So far what I’m seeing, is a kid that came from California and is being used to make an example out of. And that’s facts. What I find disturbing is the truth is not being told. Is this a fair forum or a place to paint a picture of people the way you would like them to be seen? You have portrayed my son as a big bad person and have put his life in danger. In my custody he was on his way to graduating: (With the opportunity to go to the college of his choice). Now he’s on his way to a potential death sentence with real gang members. Due to the way he has been portrayed and you continue to do this. We as parents certainly need and have to protect our children. This is not a person that is familiar with street life. I do believe these types of forums are great for everyone to get involved. The only thing left to say: If you don’t think this can happen to you or your child don’t have that thought to far from reality. We live in a world of free speech but there is still a commitment to write the truth. Facts about Andre. (All) of his school records show and note: Good student, great kid to have in class, a pleasure to know. When summer vacation would come instead of traveling over the summer he chose to brush up his skills by going to summer school (His choice). (Fact). The summer of 2002 Andre spent his summer volunteering with Trees of Atlanta a group that went around parks and cleaned them up. (Fact). In the summer of 2003. He worked with a foundation call the A-Team that put on shows for children at local Y.M.C. A.’s, which is also on video. (Fact). In the summer and school year of 2005 he traveled to California to be near his grandfather that was dying of cancer attended Venice High, in Venice California.
Brought home on his report cards A’s and two B’s. (Fact). The summer of 2006 he attended summer school and worked on starting a foundation Teen with dreams and sold cookies to get it started. (Fact). In 2007 he went to school, heard fight went into the bathroom and his whole life was flipped upside down. (Fact). And that is just a few things about this young man you write about.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 8:12pm.

there is the Art Institute of Atlanta, not to be confused with this...the Atlanta Art Institute... more importantly, not to be confused with the Savannah Art Institute that bought out something downtown with a similar name to both those above. Look real close at the fine print...

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 8:24pm.

I noticed that as well. Calling the Art Institute of Atlanta the "Atlanta Art Institute" is akin to calling Georgia Tech the "Technical University of Georgia". Sticking out tongue

BTW...it was Atlanta Art College (AAC) that went bust a few years back and got bought out by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). SCAD, by the way, charges $22,000 per year tuition!!!

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