Five members of Short North Posse found guilty

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Five men affiliated with a violent gang could face life in prison, following convictions in federal court Thursday.

The five members of the Short North Posse, based in the Weinland Park neighborhood of Columbus, were found guilty by a district court jury on all counts against them. Each could face life in prison.

Robert Ledbetter, Christopher Harris, Rashad Liston, Deounte Ussury and Clifford Robinson, all of Columbus, were convicted on various charges, including racketeering, murder, drug charges and weapons charges.

Neighbors in Weinland Park on Thursday said the area is now much safer than it used to be before 20 members of the Short North Posse were indicted in 2014.

“It was just very rough up here,” Crystal Johnson said. “No one didn’t want to come up here and live or anything.”

Johnson’s family was hit by that violence. She told NBC4 her uncle was shot but survived, and her cousin was killed.

“You do the crime, you got to do the time,” Johnson said. “Basically to me, that’s how it is. I didn’t feel no sympathy for anyone.”

WEINLAND PARKBobbie Roberts said she and her family have lived in Weinland Park for about six years, and although she didn’t know much about the Short North Posse, she noted differences in the neighborhood during her time there.

“I feel that we can come to the park, like the children are now, and play and not have to worry about someone just coming and shooting up the park,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the increased safety made her feel better about letting her four-year-old granddaughter play outside.

“Even like keeping your windows open at home, you can sit and enjoy the cool breeze instead of having to worry about keeping them locked cause someone’s going to break into your house,” Roberts said.

WEINLAND PARK KIDS PLAYINGOutside in Weinland Park, LaWon Sellers coached a Pop Warner football practice.

“If you see kids out here at this time now, then there’s not a problem,” said Sellers, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.

He said he had seen a lot of things go on in the neighborhood when he was younger, but that the community had changed significantly.

“For those guys, I hope they’ve learned their lesson and they can move on,” Sellers said. “I’m sorry they chose that path to go for, but as you can see out here, what I’m doing with these kids is changing that by making sure that future is positive and bright.”

For families like Crystal Johnson’s, the convictions offer a chance to heal from the violence.

“Finally somebody’s going to get some justice for something,” Johnson said. “A lot of families don’t know who did something to their [family member], a lot of family members [are] missing and maybe the people that got convicted are probably the cause of it.”

The men convicted Thursday were the first five to go on trial of the 20 total indicted in 2014. Of the remaining defendants, nine have taken plea deals, one has died and five more are set to go on trial in July and September.

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