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Case 2:12-cr-00001-MLCF-ALC Document 207 Filed 12/07/12 Page 1 of 14

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
VERSUS
GERARD J. HOWARD ET AL.





CRIMINAL ACTION
NO. 12-1
SECTION "F"

ORDER AND REASONS

In a status conference held on December 5, 2012, and as
documented in the Court’s resulting minute entry, the Court
ordered that it will select an anonymous jury for trial in this
case. The Court now gives the reasons for its decision.

Background

On October 18, 2012, the Federal Grand Jury returned a
twenty-two count superceding indictment, charging defendants
Nakia Hankton, Shirley Hankton, Telly Hankton, a/k/a “Third” and
“Wild,” Thomas Hankton, a/k/a “Squirt,” Troy Hankton, George
Jackson, a/k/a “Black,” Walter Porter, a/k/a “Urkel” and
“Moonie,” Derrick Smothers, a/k/a “Dump,” and Terrell Smothers,
with various violations of federal laws. The indictment alleges
that beginning on a date unknown, but prior to January 1996, and
continuing to the date of the superceding indictment, defendants
were part of a criminal enterprise that historically encompassed
the Uptown Central City area of New Orleans, primarily

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concentrated in the area bordered by Jackson Avenue, St. Andrew
Street, Simon Bolivar, and Oretha Castle Haley. Specifically,
the superceding indictment charges the defendants as follows:







Count 1: RICO Conspiracy

Defendants Nakia Hankton, Shirley Hankton, Telly
Hankton, Thomas Hankton, Troy Hankton, George
Jackson, Walter Porter, Derrick Smother, and
Terrell Smothers were charged with conspiring to
conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a
pattern of racketeering activity, consisting of
multiple acts involving murder, bribery,
trafficking in controlled substances, possession
with the intent to distribute controlled
substances, including cocaine base (crack
cocaine), cocaine hydrochloride (powder cocaine),
heroin, and marijuana.1

Count 2: Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled
Substances

Defendants Nakia Hankton, Shirley Hankton, Telly
Hankton, Thomas Hankton, Troy Hankton, George
Jackson, Derrick Smothers, and Terrell Smothers
did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire,
and confederate and agree with each other to
distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base
(crack cocaine), five kilograms or more of cocaine
hydrochloride (powder cocaine), one kilogram or
more of heroin, and a quantity of marijuana.

Count 3: Conspiracy to Possess Firearms

Defendants Andre Hankton, Nakia Hankton, Telly
Hankton, Thomas Hankton, Troy Hankton, George
Jackson, Kevin Jackson, Derrick Smothers, Terrell
Smothers, and Walter Porter did knowingly and
intentionally combine, conspire, confederate and
agree with each other to, during and in relation
to a crime of violence and a drug trafficking
crime, to use, carry, and possess firearms in
furtherance of a crime of violence and drug

1 Notably, the indictment alleges 101 overt acts that were
committed by the defendants in furtherance of the conspiracy and
to accomplish the objects of the conspiracy.

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trafficking.

Count 4: Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice

Defendant Walter Porter did knowingly and
intentionally combine, conspire, confederate and
agree with other persons, to corruptly obstruct,
influence, and impede an official proceeding by
attempting to cause K.E. to falsely claim that
G.H. did not possess a firearm on June 23, 2007,
but rather that K.E. possessed the firearm.

Count 5: Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Defendants Andre Hankton and Telly Hankton as
consideration for the receipt of, and as
consideration for a promise and an agreement to
pay, and for the purpose of gaining entrance to
and maintaining and increasing position in the
enterprise, murdered Darnell Stewart.

Count 6: Causing Death Through the Use of a Firearm
Defendants Andre Hankton and Telly Hankton did
knowingly use and carry a firearm during and in
relation to a crime of violence and drug
trafficking crime.

Count 7: Possession of a Short-Barreled Shotgun

Defendant Andre Hankton knowingly possessed a
Winchester 20 gauge short-barreled shotgun, which
is not registered to him.

Count 8: Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Defendants Telly Hankton, Walter Porter, and Kevin
Jackson did murder Jesse Reed.

Count 9: Causing Death Through the Use of a Firearm

Defendants Telly Hankton, Walter Porter, and Kevin
Jackson did knowingly use and carry a firearm
during and in relation to a crime of violence and
drug trafficking crime.

Count 10: Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Defendants Walter Porter and Thomas Hankton as
consideration for the receipt of, and as
consideration for a promise and an agreement to
pay, and for the purpose of gaining entrance to
and maintaining and increasing position in the

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enterprise, murdered Hasan Williams.

Count 11: Causing Death Through the Use of a Firearm
Defendants Walter Porter and Thomas Hankton did
knowingly use and carry a firearm during and in
relation to a crime of violence and drug
trafficking crime.

Count 12: Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Defendant Walter Porter, having been previously
convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment
for a term exceeding one year, did knowingly
possess in and affecting interstate commerce an
unknown make and model of a firearm.

Count 13: Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of
Racketeering

Defendants Thomas Hankton, Telly Hankton, and
Walter Porter did commit an assault with a
dangerous weapon on J.M.

Count 14: Use and Carrying of a Firearm During and in
Relation to a Crime of Violence and a Drug
Trafficking Crime

Defendants Thomas Hankton, Telly Hankton, and
Walter Porter did knowingly use and carry a
firearm during and in relation to a crime of
violence and drug trafficking crime.
Count 15: Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Defendant Walter Porter as consideration for the
receipt of, and as consideration for a promise and
an agreement to pay, and for the purpose of
gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing
position in the enterprise, murdered Curtis
Matthews.

Count 16: Causing Death Through the Use of a Firearm
Defendant Walter Porter did knowingly use and
carry a firearm during and in relation to a crime
of violence and drug trafficking crime.

Count 17: Conspiracy to Commit Misprision of a Felony
Defendants Thomas Hankton, Netthany Schexnayder,
and Sana Johnson did knowingly and willfully
combine, conspire, and agree with each other to
knowingly commit the crime of misprision of a

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felony, having knowledge of the actual commission
of felonies.

Count 18: Accessory After the Fact to Murder

Defendants Thomas Hankton, Netthany Schexnayder,
and Sana Johnson, knowing that an offense against
the United States has been committed, received,
relieved, comforted, and assisted the offender,
Telly Hankton, in order to hinder and prevent the
offender’s apprehension, trial, and punishment.

Count 19: Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Defendant Walter Porter, having been previously
convicted of a crime punishable by a term of
imprisonment exceeding one year, did knowingly
possess in and affecting interstate commerce,
ammunition and a Romarm 7.62 caliber semi-
automatic assault rifle.

Count 20: Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Defendant Walter Porter, having been convicted of
a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term
exceeding one year, did knowingly possess in and
affecting interstate commerce, ammunition and a
model 17, 9 mm Glock semi-automatic handgun.

Count 21: Money Laundering Conspiracy

Defendants Telly Hankton, Thomas Hankton, and
Shirley Hankton, did knowingly and intentionally
combine, conspire, confederate and agree with each
other to knowingly and willfully conduct and
attempt to conduct financial transactions, which
involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful
activity.

Count 22: Perjury

Defendant Shirley Hankton, under oath and duly
sworn, did knowingly and unlawfully and contrary
to oath make certain material false statements to
a United States Grand Jury.

In summary, over a period of at least sixteen years, and

involving fourteen defendants, the indictment alleges charges of
the most serious, wicked, and alarming nature; the murder of four
individuals, assault with a deadly weapon, possession and

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distribution of a significant quantity of various drugs (crack
cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, and marijuana), a variety of
weapons offenses (a 20 gauge short-barreled shotgun, Romarm 7.62
caliber semi-automatic assault rifle, and 9 mm Glock semi-
automatic handgun), money laundering, lying under oath, and
obstruction of justice.

Legal Standard

The Court, in considering the use of an anonymous jury in

this case, has examined earlier precedent as a guide. The Fifth
Circuit has explicitly stated that “‘the use of an anonymous jury
is constitutional when there is a strong reason to believe the
jury needs protection and the district court takes reasonable
precautions to minimize any prejudicial effects on the defendant
and to ensure that his fundamental rights are protected.’” United
States v. Krout, 66 F.3d 1420, 1427 (5th Cir. 1995) (quoting
United States v. Wong, 40 F.3d 1347, 1376 (2d Cir. 1994))
(internal quotation marks omitted). The Fifth Circuit has
helpfully identified several factors that would justify the use
of an anonymous jury:

1. The defendants’ involvement in organized crime;
2. The defendants’ participation in a group with the

capacity to harm jurors;

3. The defendants’ past attempts to interfere with the

judicial process or witnesses;

4. The potential that, if convicted, the defendants will

suffer a lengthy incarceration and substantial monetary

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penalties; and

5. Extensive publicity that could enhance the possibility
that the jurors’ names would become public and expose
them to intimidation and harassment.

Krout, 66 F.3d at 1427; see, e.g., United States v. Herrera, 446
F. App’x 409 (5th Cir. 2012)(upholding the district court’s sua
sponte order directing that the selected jury remain anonymous
based on the Krout factors); United States v. Brown, 303 F.3d
582, 602-03 (5th Cir. 2002) (upholding the use of an anonymous
jury after the district court found three of the five Krout
factors present in the case). No one factor is dispositive;
rather, the decision to empanel an anonymous jury should be made
on the totality of circumstances. Brown, 303 F.3d at 602 (citing
United States v. Branch, 91 F.3d 699, 724 (5th Cir. 1996)). Here
it seems as though all the Krout factors are implicated.

I. Discussion

Based on the Krout factors, relevant case law, and the

allegations against these defendants, the Court finds the use of
an anonymous jury at trial is not only appropriate, but also
quite necessary.

A.

Under the first Krout factor, which considers the

defendants’ involvement in organized crime, the Court notes that
the main thrust of the indictment here accuses fourteen
defendants of engaging in organized crime for over a minimum

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period of sixteen years, concealing at least $42.3 million in
ill-gotten gain.2 During this time, the indictment alleges,
among other things, that the defendants purchased and distributed
significant quantities of drugs, including crack cocaine and
cocaine powder, from sources in New Orleans and Houston.3
Moreover, the defendants allegedly threatened (while armed with
firearms) a source of supply and his family members over drug-
trafficking disputes,4 shot and killed several individuals who
were believed to have stolen drugs,5 and shot and killed
witnesses and family members of witnesses.6 Based on the
government’s allegations, the Court cannot ignore that the
defendants’ involvement in organized crime is alleged to be both
rooted and far-reaching. See Herrera, 446 F. App’x at 410

2 See Superceding Indictment at 33.
3 For instance, the indictment alleges that sometime between 1998
to 2003, Telly Hankton purchased five to six kilograms of cocaine
powder approximately every two weeks from a source of supply in
the New Orleans area. See id. at 9 (emphasis added). Another
example includes the allegation that between June 22, 2009 and
February 3, 2011, Thomas Hankton purchased five to ten kilograms
of cocaine powder on at least four separate occasions from a
source of supply in Houston. See id. at 14. Yet another
example in the indictment includes the allegation that sometime
in 2008 Telly Hankton and an associate met with a drug source in
Texas and paid him approximately $120,000 for drugs. See id. at
13.
4 See id. at 13.
5 See id. at 10.
6 See id. at 14-16.

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(involving six defendants who were all associated, in varying
degrees, in a criminal drug enterprise in El Paso, Texas and
certain West Texas cities); Cf. Brown, 303 F.3d at 602 (upholding
an anonymous jury even though the first factor was not
implicated).

B.

The Court considers the second and third Krout factors

together, examining both the defendants’ participation in a group
with the capacity to harm jurors, and the defendants’ past
attempts to interfere with the judicial process and to intimidate
witnesses. The Court finds that both factors are noticeably
present based on the following allegations in the indictment,
which indicate the defendants’ potential to try to harm jurors
and past attempts of judicial interference:










On or about November 5, 1996, the indictment alleges
that Thomas Hankton escaped arrest by New Orleans
Police Officers by fleeing on a bicycle. See
Superceding Indictment at 9.
The indictment also alleges that between July 28, 2008
and March 7, 2009, Telly Hankton fled Orleans Parish
and the State of Louisiana to avoid prosecution for the
murder of Darnell Stewart. See id. at 14.
On or about July 4, 2009, the indictment alleges that
Walter Porter shot and killed Hasan Williams, a witness
to the murder of Jesse Reed. See id. at 15.
The indictment alleges that sometime in 2009 but after
August 29, 2009, an associate of the defendants in
Orleans Parish Prison called Derrick Smothers, at the
direction of Telly Hankton (who was also in jail), and
instructed Derrick Smothers to tell Thomas Hankton to
kill witness, J.M. Walter Porter allegedly later shot

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J.M. See id. at 15.
Sometime in 2011, but after February 3, 2011, the
indictment alleges that Thomas Hankton offered to pay a
witness to testify falsely at Telly Hankton’s first
trial for the murder of Darnell Stewart and to provide
an alibi for Telly Hankton. The indictment alleges
that numerous defendants had a role in facilitating and
concocting a false alibi for D.H. and Sana Johnson to
use at trial. See id. at 15. The indictment further
alleges that Netthany Schexnayder offered to pay Sana
Johnson to falsely testify, which she allegedly did on
July 28, 2011 at Telly Hankton’s first murder trial.
See id. at 15-16.
On or about October 15, 2011, Walter Porter shot and
killed Curtis Matthews, the brother of J.M., who
testified against Telly Hankton. See id. at 16.
On or about November 3, 2011, Shirley Hankton provided
material false information to the federal grand jury.
See id. at 16.

The Court finds these allegations particularly worrisome;
defendants have allegedly evaded prosecution, ordered the death
of witnesses from inside jail, conjured perjured testimony and
false alibis, and lied to a grand jury. Moreover, and related to
the fifth Krout factor, which is examined at length below,
numerous media stories painted defendants as responsible for
smashing a teal pickup truck into the entrance of the Orleans
Parish District Attorney’s office after Telly Hankton’s first
trial.7 These allegations support the Court’s finding, under the
second and third Krout factors, that defendants have made past

7 See John Simerman, Telly Hankton Network Targeted by Sweeping
Federal Probe, NOLA.COM (Oct. 13, 2012), http://www.nola.com/crime
/index.ssf/2012/10/telly_hankton_network_targeted.html.

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attempts to interfere with the judicial process and witnesses,
and that the defendants could be connected to a group with the
capacity to harm jurors. See, e.g., Brown, 303 F.3d at 602
(noting that the district court found that “several individuals
in the case had proven their ability to corrupt the legal system”
by witness tampering); Krout, 66 F.3d at 1428 (finding it
significant that the defendants’ interfered with potential
witnesses, specifically noting that the defendants murdered or
attempted to murder people suspected of informing the
authorities); United States v. Perea, 625 F. Supp. 2d 327, 337
(W.D. Tex. 2009) (stating that the defendants had the capacity to
harm jurors given their connection to a gang operation).

C.

The fourth Krout factor assesses the potential that, if

convicted, the defendants will suffer a lengthy incarceration and
substantial monetary penalties. The Court finds that this factor
is also present based on the fact that defendants, if convicted,
face substantial sentences. Moreover, the maximum penalty for
five of the fourteen defendants may be life imprisonment or
perhaps even the death penalty if the Department of Justice
approves a capital sentence. See Memorandum from Liz Privitera,
Assistant United States Attorney, to Clerk of Court, Eastern
District of Louisiana (Oct. 18, 2012) (attachment #1 to the
superseding indictment).

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D.

The fifth Krout factor, which considers the likelihood of

extensive publicity that could enhance the possibility that juror
identity would become public and expose jurors to intimidation
and harassment, significantly affects the Court’s decision to
order an anonymous jury. The media has already begun to
dramatize this case and the charges against the defendants.
Although this case is still in a relatively early stage, it has
received considerable press coverage on a local and national
level,1 perhaps in part because the Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch
Landrieu, has publically labeled Telly Hankton as “New Orleans’
Most Dangerous” in press conferences.2 Pretial publicity, taken

1
For a small sampling of media coverage, see Telly Hankton’s
Town: A Murderer Sows Terror, Even from Jail, THE ECONOMIST (Nov.
5, 2011), http://www.economist.com/node/21536607; John Simerman,
Hankton Family Reunion Takes Place in Federal Court, NOLA.COM
(Oct. 5, 2012), http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/10
/hankton_family_reunion_takes_p.html; Brendan McCarthy & Paul
Murphy, Feds: Hankton Organization Was Modern Day Crime Family,
WWLTV.com (Oct. 19, 2012), http://www.wwltv.com
/news/crime/Mother-of-convicted-murderer-Telly-Hankton-taken-
into-custody-in-major-crime-roundup-174949311.html; Michael
Kunzelman, Leader of N.O. Drug Ring Indicted, THE ADVOCATE (Oct.
21, 2012), http://theadvocate.com/news/4195097-123/leader-of-no-
drug-ring; John Simmerman, Telly Hankton Hearing Is via Prison
Video Because of Security Concerns, Station Reports, NOLA.COM
(Dec. 5, 2012), http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012
/12/telly_hankton_case_judge_order.html.
2 John Simerman, Mayor Mitch Landrieu ‘Sends a Message’ to Telly
Hankton and His Family at Site of Killing, NOLA.COM (Oct. 18,
2011), http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2011/10/new_orleans_
mayor_sends_a_mess.html (“I’m sending a message loud and clear to
Telly Hankton and his family and anyone else associated with
this: ‘We’re coming to get you.’”).

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alone, may not be a dispositive factor, but it certainly tilts in
favor of having an anonymous jury.3 See Herrera, 466 F. App’x at
424 (affirming the district court’s order for an anonymous jury
in part because of the “probability of greater than usual media
attention”); Brown, 582 F.3d at 602 (affirming the district
court’s order because of the “enormous local and national
publicity surrounding the case”); United States v. Wong, 40 F.3d
1347, 1377 (2d Cir. 1994) (affirming the district court’s order
because the case had received significant print and broadcast
coverage before trial and it was therefore reasonable for the
district court to predict that additional media coverage would
accompany the trial).

In conclusion, the Court finds that the totality of the

circumstances demands anonymity in this case. It is important to
emphasize that the Fifth Circuit has held that “the use of an
anonymous jury d[oes] not undermine the defendants’ presumption
of innocence.” Branch, 91 F.3d at 725. Recognizing that the
right to a fair trial is a central tenent in our judicial system,
the Court will take positive and constructive steps to minimize
any conceivable prejudicial effects associated with the use of an

3 In what is most likely to be a foreshadowing of the publicity
ahead, local media published a story merely hours after the
Court’s status hearing in this case on December 5, 2012. See
John Simerman, Telly Hankton Case: Judge Orders Anonymous Jury
for Racketeering Trial, NOLA.COM (Dec. 5, 2012), http://www.nola
.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/12/telly_hankton_case_judge_order.html

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anonymous jury. The Court finds that empaneling an anonymous
jury will not compromise the defendants’ fundamental rights, will
recognize the reality of the grave charges made in this case, and
will help ensure a fair trial. See, e.g., Herrera, 446 F. App’x
at 424 (“[D]uring its voir dire, the district court carefully
queried the venire to ensure that no prospective jurors would be
influenced by the anonymity and security measures.”); Brown, 303
F.3d at 602-03 (“[T]he court’s efforts to provide the defendants
with sufficient information on the jurors through extensive juror
questionnaires and voir dire adequately protected the defendants’
rights and permitted them to select a jury intelligently.”);
United States v. Riggio, 70 F.3d 336, 340 & n.23 (5th Cir. 1995)
(“Careful instructions were given to the jurors . . . . [t]his
neutral explanation caused no unfair prejudice to [defendant]”).4


New Orleans, Louisiana, December 7, 2012



_____________________________
MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

4 The Court recognizes the seriousness of counsels’ pause about
the use of an anonymous jury and the temptation to fear that such
a jury will presume guilt, not innocence, throughout the trial.
That is not an unreasonable concern, and the Court is sensitive
to it. But the case precedent that guides this Court’s decision
also takes into account such considerations, and in the unique
circumstances of cases such as the one before the Court,
acknowledges the reality of the need for an anonymous jury.

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