Two Columbia men plead guilty to Cut Throat gang activities

Thursday, October 1, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Two more suspected Cut Throat gang members pleaded guilty to a series of gun and drug charges Wednesday in federal court .

Brandon James Isom, 19, and Diondre Jamel Cooper, 20, both of Columbia, pleaded guilty to an April 3 superseding indictment in front of U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey, according to a news release from the central division of U.S. Western District Court of Missouri in Jefferson City.

Isom, Cooper and 14 others were first indicted in January as part of what law enforcement officials called the Cut Throat gang, following an 18-month investigation by local, state and federal agencies. It was the first time the police acknowledged gang activity in Columbia.

Both men pleaded guilty to their involvement in a retaliation drive-by shooting on May 31, 2008, at a Petro Mart gas station near Falling Leaf Lane in Columbia.

On June 2, 2007, the rival gang Louie Bound shot one of the Cut Throat members at a Break Time gas station near Smiley Lane in Columbia because of a territorial disagreement regarding the unlawful distribution of crack and powder cocaine, the release stated.

When Isom and Cooper arrived at the Petro Mart gas station on May 31, 2008, Isom admitted that he shot his Glock 10 mm handgun toward a crowded spot because he believed he had seen the person who fired at the Cut Throat member, the news release stated. Co-defendant William Ricky Boyd, 21, of Columbia, also shot into the crowd. The targeted man was hit in the face, but he was actually not associated with the rival gang, according to the news release.

Isom pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges of distributing crack cocaine and powder cocaine from January 2007 to September 2008. He admitted to carrying firearms for his own protection and his drug-trafficking business, the news release stated.

Both men also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to illegally possessing firearms and firing a weapon into a group of people with the intent to intimidate, injure and maim.

Because of a felony conviction, Cooper was prohibited from possessing firearms. But, he admitted to passing firearms between himself and other members, including ones with felony convictions, the release stated.

According to federal statutes, Isom faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Cooper faces a sentence of up to five years in prison without parole.

Sentencing hearings for 14 of the 16 defendants will be scheduled after the completion of investigations by the U.S. Probation Office.

Two more suspected gang members — Donna C. Coats and William Harold Rogers — are scheduled to stand trial Monday.

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