Gang leader charged in scheme to control punk rock

Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:58pm EDT
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - The founder of a street gang that administered beatings and made threats in its drive to control the punk rock music scene has been charged with extorting a Chicago performer, authorities said on Tuesday.

Elgin Nathan James, a self-proclaimed founding member of Boston-based FSU -- which stands for "Friends Stand United" -- was arrested on Monday by FBI agents at his Los Angeles home. The attempted extortion charge was then unsealed by the prosecutor's office in Chicago.

FSU boasted in videos dating to 2004 about beatings it administered to punk music fans and performers. The aim was to establish control at clubs and concert venues and drive "Nazi skinheads" out, according to prosecutors.

The victim in this case was a "popular recording artist from the Chicago area" who was not named. The victim and his friends were beaten and repeatedly threatened by FSU members while on tour in late 2005 and early 2006, prosecutors said.

Cooperating with the FBI, the victim tape-recorded James seeking to extort money from him in a telephone call and agents observed James accepting a $5,000 payoff at a club to stop the harassment. If convicted, James could face 20 years in prison.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern, Editing by Sandra Maler and Bob Tourtellotte)