(CTN News) – A street gang in Milwaukee allegedly stole millions of dollars in Covid-19 pandemic relief money. In a shocking case of criminal activity, a Milwaukee street gang known as the “Wild 100s,” or the “Shark Gang,” is facing a federal indictment on 43 counts, including mail fraud, murder for hire, conspiracy to sell guns, and drug possession with intent to sell.
The indictment alleges that the gang stole millions of dollars in COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, which were reportedly used to fund a crime spree involving a murder, gun purchases, drug deals, and more.
The Gang’s Alleged Crimes
The indictment, unsealed in May, charges 30 gang members with a range of crimes. The gang’s leader, Ronnell Bowman, and another member, Ronnie Jackson, are accused of orchestrating a murder-for-hire scheme in April 2021. The victim is identified only as N.B. Bowman and Jackson have pleaded not guilty, and they could face life imprisonment if convicted.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Kwaterski presented evidence that Bowman was the mastermind behind the fraud scheme, personally responsible for pilfering $850,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.
The indictment claims that Bowman taught other gang members fraudulent methods, leading to the theft of millions of dollars in relief money.
This ill-gotten cash was allegedly used to finance criminal activities, including the murder, gun purchases (including machine guns), drug transactions, luxury items, jewelry, clothing, and vacations.
Murder and Gang Rivalries
The stolen funds were reportedly used to solicit the murder of rival gang members and their associates. Bowman allegedly offered money for the murder of a rival gang member’s mother or sister on social media, resulting in the killing of the rival’s friend instead.
Jackson was allegedly paid $10,000 to carry out this murder. The indictment also suggests that Bowman is connected to two other murder-for-hire cases related to gang rivalries.
Nationwide Crackdown on COVID-19 Relief Fund Fraud
The gang’s activities were part of a larger nationwide effort by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat fraud related to COVID-19 relief funds.
In response to the widespread misappropriation of these funds, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland established a task force dedicated to apprehending individuals stealing relief money. Over 3,000 individuals have been charged, and more than $1.4 billion in stolen funds have been recovered.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the formation of new strike teams in Colorado and New Jersey to continue pursuing stolen relief money. The DOJ aims to recover every stolen dollar, and with 20 years to achieve these recoveries, their efforts are ongoing.
This case is a stark reminder of the lengths some criminal groups will go to exploit crises for personal gain. As law enforcement agencies and the DOJ remain vigilant, the pursuit of justice and the recovery of stolen funds continue to be top priorities.