ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Two members of a violent motorcycle gang have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges, among 18 members of the Wheels of Soul outlaws who were indicted last summer.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry in St. Louis on Wednesday sentenced Thomas "Qball" Bailey, 41, to nearly 16 years in prison. Meanwhile, Maurice Thomas, 32, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Federal prosecutors say the Wheels of Soul Outlaw Motorcycle Gang was based in Philadelphia but had chapters in more than 20 states.
Bailey and Thomas, both from Chicago, pleaded guilty in January to trafficking crack cocaine as part of their involvement with the gang. Bailey, who had a long criminal record including multiple drug-related offenses, also acknowledged that he had agreed to the killing of an insubordinate member of the gang as punishment for repeated transgressions, and that he conspired with other Wheels of Soul members to dispose of a gun used in a murder in Chicago in January 2011.
Thomas received the much lighter sentence in part because he had no prior convictions.
Federal investigators began looking into the Wheels of Soul in 2009 after alleged members of the St. Louis chapter shot and killed a member of the rival Sin City Titans gang. That shooting came weeks after members were told that the Mother Chapter of the Wheels of Soul had declared "open season" on the Sin City Titans, according to the indictment announced in June.
In addition to the Chicago killings, a gang member is also accused of shooting three victims in the back as they fled from a party in Marion, Ohio, in March 2011. One of those victims died and another was seriously wounded.
Federal prosecutors have described a gang involved in breathtaking violence and said gang members raised money through robberies and by distributing drugs, especially crack cocaine, but also heroin.