Authorities have identified late rapper Jimmy Wopo as the leader of a violent street gang.
The accusations were detailed in a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday, nearly two months after Wopo was fatally shot in Pittsburgh. TribLive.com reports three alleged members of 11 Hunnit—a gang based in Pittsburgh’s Hill District—were indicted last week on racketeering charges that include homicide, drug trafficking, and robbery. Though Wopo—legal name Tavon Smart—was not charged in the case, he was named in the 15-page indictment under his initials “T.S.” Investigators allege the rapper directed 11 Hunnit members to carry out a slew of criminal acts, including the murder of rival gang members.
“T.S. held the greater influence within the group largely due to his notoriety as a regionally popular rap artist,” the indictment read. “Members attempted to curry favor with T.S. by carrying out criminal acts at his direction. In return, T.S. often rewarded those that committed criminal acts at his behest by including them in his music videos and providing them with items of monetary value.”
The indictment names 22-year-old Dionte Griffin, 20-year-old Sydney Pack, and 23-year-old Richard Kelley, all of whom remain in custody.
11 Hunnit members are suspected of killing 20-year-old Christopher Richardson in April 2015; 18-year-old Martell Benton-Bridgett in January 2016; and 18-year-old Jabree Hines in October 2016; however, Wopo’s manager Taylor Maglin insists the rapper was not involved with the alleged crimes.
“He funded the Hill District Rebels, the football team for the kids, and also made sure he funded a free camp—not just for the Hill District community but for the entire area, and kids could come from all over,” Maglin told Channel 11. “They will say what they want to say. At the end of the day, this is the government. But I will keep the message positive, his music going, and his name alive forever.”
Wopo was murdered June 18 in the Hill District neighborhood. A gunman reportedly approached Wopo’s vehicle and opened fire on the rapper and a male passenger. Though the passenger survived the gun wounds, Wopo was pronounced dead shortly after. He was 21 years old.