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Guilty plea in federal gang case

Jamel Spaights, 28, of Portsmouth pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court to racketeering and attempted murder charges in connection with his membership in a local gang known as the Bounty Hunter Bloods.

Spaights, also known as “Mel” or “Bloody Bastard,” was alleged in an indictment to have been the leader of a Portsmouth gang known as the Nine Tech Gangsters. He had been charged with 18 felony counts in an indictment that included charges against a total of eight defendants.

Two of those defendants, including Cameron “Cam” Mychal Evans of Suffolk, pleaded guilty in May to racketeering-related activities. Another Suffolk defendant, Danyell Jamar White, awaits trial on 12 counts, including kidnapping and assault.

Spaights pleaded guilty on Friday to participating in a pattern of racketeering activity, including conspiring to commit murder, attempted murder and conspiring to distribute controlled substances. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in a crime of violence.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10 and could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The worst of the charges against the men sprang from what police say was a 2006 attempt by members of the gang to kill a witness in the murder of Darius Powell.

According to court documents, Spaights and others drove around the Cradock area of Portsmouth until they found the witness, and then chased him down in the vehicle. Spaights then fired on the witness with a 9-mm handgun, but missed him.

Spaights and the others ran from the scene when the vehicle crashed into a home, but Spaights dropped the firearm, which was later recovered by Portsmouth police.

Portsmouth and Suffolk police departments and the Virginia State Police cooperated in the investigation, which was prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys William Muhr and Melissa O’Boyle.