U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of California
Northern District of California
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2012
Melinda Haag, United States Attorney
Contact: Jack Gillund
ALLEGED MEMBERS OF OAKLAND ACORN GANG INDICTED FOR MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER IN AID OF RACKETEERING
OAKLAND, Calif – A federal grand jury in Oakland indicted Dionte Houff (a/k/a Birdman), 30, of Oakland, and Houston Nathaniel III (a/k/a Lil No), 23, of Oakland, yesterday with participation in a racketeering conspiracy; racketeering murder, attempted murder, maiming and assault with a dangerous weapon; use and possession of a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag; Acting Director B. Todd Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); U.S. Marshal Donald M. O'Keefe; and Chief Howard Jordan of the Oakland Police Department, during a press conference held today in Oakland. The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted as part of Operation Gideon III, which ran from February through May 2012, an ATF-led multi-pronged initiative designed to target and remove violent offenders and to dismantle criminal organizations.
According to the indictment, Houff and Nathaniel were members of the Acorn gang, a criminal association operating in and around the Acorn housing projects in Oakland. The indictment alleges that the Acorn gang constitutes a racketeering enterprise and engages in crimes that include murder, attempted murder, distribution of controlled substances, robbery and obstruction of justice. The defendants are alleged to have assaulted and attempted to kill actual and suspected members of rival gangs.
According to the indictment, on Nov. 6, 2011, in the vicinity of 10th and Peralta Streets in Oakland, Nathaniel shot and maimed a teenage boy. Later on Nov. 6, 2011, in the vicinity of the Acorn housing project on Adeline Street in Oakland, Nathaniel shot and wounded a second teenage boy. In addition, on Nov. 28, 2011, Houff, Nathaniel, and an accomplice shot at a group of individuals whom they believed were rival gang members, wounding six of the individuals and killing an infant. The indictment alleges that Houff and Nathaniel committed each of these violent acts to maintain or increase their positions in the Acorn gang.
Houff is currently in federal custody pending charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. His next scheduled court appearance in that case is on July 24, 2012, in Oakland. Nathaniel is currently being held on state charges in Alameda County stemming from the Nov. 6, 2011, shootings. A date has not yet been set for the defendants' initial appearance in federal court on the charges in the indictment returned yesterday.
The maximum statutory penalty for the racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), is life in prison if the activity involved murder or other offenses punishable by life in prison. The maximum penalty for murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), is death or life in prison; the mandatory minimum sentence is life. The maximum penalty for maiming in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(2), is 30 years in prison. The maximum penalty for attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5), is 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty for assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3), is 20 years in prison. The maximum penalty for use and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), is life in prison; the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 or 25 years in prison. The maximum penalty for use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j), is death or life in prison.
In addition, each charge under Title 18 carries a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. sentencing guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Brigid Martin and W.S. Wilson Leung are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Kathleen Turner and Jeanne Carstensen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Houff and Nathaniel must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.