By Michelle Guffey
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON A Fort Hood Criminal Investigation Division special agent testified Friday that he believes a 29-year-old Fort Hood soldier is the leader of a criminal street gang in Killeen.
The soldier, Sgt. Jerome A. Smith, is on trial in Judge Martha Trudos 264th District Court and charged with aggravated robbery and being a member of a criminal street gang.
Smith is charged with the Nov. 7, 2003, armed robbery at the home of a Harker Heights man and the Nov. 9, 2003, charge of armed robbery of the Wolaes Convenience Store in Killeen.
Smith is also accused of being the leader of a criminal street gang in Killeen known as the Gangster Disciples, a national gang based out of Chicago.
Special agent Christopher Schrock took the stand Friday and gave testimony concerning his investigation into the Gangster Disciples.
Smith is the leader of the gang, Schrock testified.
Schrocks investigation started in December 2003, when he brought Pvt. Brandon Reed into his office to talk about his possible involvement in identity theft. At the time, Reed was a member of the Gangster Disciples, and he has since provided testimony against Sgt. Smith.
Schrock said Reed started talking about the Gangster Disciples (GD) and providing information about gang activity.
Reed didnt volunteer much at first, but if the right questions were asked, Reed provided the answers, Schrock said.
Schrock testified that with each meeting he had with Reed, more and more information emerged about the GD activities in the area.
Reed gave information about identity theft, credit card fraud, drug selling and eventually about the two robberies. All were associated with the GD, Schrock said.
Schrock said he then contacted Detective Robin Rubidoux with the Killeen Police Department. A task force was developed with other government agencies the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Schrock said they were able to identify 165 folks who were associated with gang activity. Of that number, 40 percent were active-duty military personnel at Fort Hood.
CID began coordinating with the U.S. Attorneys office, and it was decided to screen things locally. Certain cases concerning racketeering and money laundering are ongoing with the U.S. Attorneys office. Several other cases were run through the Bell County District Attorneys office, Schrock said.
As a result of these investigations, the CID office on Fort Hood began to be watched by GD members.
We received information that countersurveillance was going on outside the CID office, Schrock said.
Schrock testified that he had discovered Latoya Arnold, a GD member, sitting outside the building watching and taking notes on who entered.
In response to this countersurveillance, Schrock said his office locked down files and limited distribution. He said the major concern was that this activity by the GD would hinder witnesses. They were trying to get as much information as possible in a certain time frame.
Schrock said Reed became more and more concerned about repercussions from the gang. On Jan. 22, 2004, a call came from police at Killeen Mall saying that an attempt had been made on Reeds life and that Reed was on his way back to post.
Reed testified on Tuesday that after the incident at the mall while he on his way back to Fort Hood, several cars pulled up alongside him, boxing him in. In one vehicle was Smith, who was looking at him and pointing a gun.
Reed saw a state trooper on the side of the road and pulled up in front of her. Smith and the others kept driving.
Schrock said that because of this incident, Reed was put into a jail cell for protective custody. They believed the barracks were not a secure location. Schrocks office had a list of names of military members who were GD members, and many of them were in Reeds unit.
Reed was then discharged from the Army because he feared for his life. He was given a general discharge with honorable conditions. Reed was put on a bus directly from his jail cell with only the clothes on his back and sent to an undisclosed location, Schrock said.
Reed returned to Fort Hood a week later and gave his final statement. Schrock said his office decided to videotape Reeds statement because there were concerns about Reed being alive for the trial.
Schrock said that Reed provided information that authorities were able to substantiate; therefore, he became a credible witness.
Schrock testified that Reed didnt care about being charged; he cared about breathing the next day.
The government did not have probable cause to arrest Smith for solicitation of Reeds murder, Schrock said.
Reed has pleaded guilty to the Nov. 7 and 9, 2003, charge of aggravated robbery and being a member of a criminal street gang.
Reed testified Tuesday that Smith ordered him to perform those robberies. Reed and several other gang members this week testified that Smith is the GD leader.
Smith is still a soldier in the military. The only thing keeping him in the Army is being flagged, Schrock said. Being flagged means that he is part of an ongoing investigation, he explained.
Smith has been in the military since 1993. During his career, he has been involved in several incidents that have gone onto his military record, though he has never been convicted.
Schrock said Smith was arrested for a malicious wounding in Virginia. The case was turned over to the military, and he was given a summary court-martial. Also on his record are charges of unlawful carrying of a weapon, drunken disorderly, failure to obey a lawful order from a noncommissioned officer and indecent assault.
Not the mark of an exemplary soldier, Schrock said.
Regardless of whether he is convicted of the Nov. 7 and 9, 2003, robberies, Smith probably will be discharged from the Army, Schrock said.
Many Gangster Disciples have been removed from the military as a result of the ongoing investigation, Schrock said.
Testimony in the case will resume Monday.
Contact Michelle Guffey at email@example.com