MILWAUKEE — A federal grand jury has indicted four men, including two Racine residents, for allegedly retaliating against a man at a Mount Pleasant tavern who they believed was a federal informant, U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad announced Wednesday.
Jose E. Lazcon and Rashawn T. Bumpus, both 22 and from Racine, Derrick L. Harris, 26, of Chicago, and Michael A. Bonds, 29, of Dolton, Illinois, were indicted, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
Each man is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by retaliating against a witness in a federal case.
Lazcon and Harris are also charged with obstruction of justice by attempting to kill the witness in August and discharging a firearm during the crime, the release said.
If convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice by retaliating against the witness, each man faces up to 20 years in prison.
If convicted of attempting to kill the witness, the release said, Lazcon and Harris would face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
A conviction for discharging a firearm carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison, running consecutively to one another.
The incident was investigated by the FBI South Eastern Wisconsin Regional Gang Task Force, Racine Police Department and Mount Pleasant Police Department, the release stated.
“We take any threats to witnesses seriously,” said Justin Tolomeo, special agent in charge of the FBI Milwaukee Division. “Those who seek to retaliate by intimidating or harming individuals who cooperate with law enforcement will be investigated, arrested and referred to prosecutors without delay.”
Cham Tap incident
According to a criminal complaint issued in August, the charges stem from an incident that occurred on Aug. 8 at Cham Tap tavern, 2511 Durand Ave., Mount Pleasant.
The four men allegedly approached another man at the tavern. The targeted man then grabbed the 8 ball from a pool table to defend himself, the complaint stated.
After the bartender told the men to leave, one of the four charged allegedly tried throwing a punch at the targeted man on the way out. The targeted man told police he heard two shots as he drove away.
Police located a 40-caliber firearm in the vehicle the four suspects were in when they were later pulled over.
The four men are in custody and awaiting trial before U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, the release said.
Implications of retaliation
At their detention hearings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph noted the severity of an attempted attack on a suspected cooperating witness and how these types of crimes can impede the justice system.
“Conduct like that alleged in the indictment strikes at the foundation of our criminal justice system,” Haanstad said. “That system depends on the ability of witnesses to provide truthful information about criminal activity without fear of retribution.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. attorneys Margaret B. Honrath and Bridget J. Domaszek.