Alleged leader of Rock Hill street gang pleads guilty to burglary, receives probation
05/22/2014 5:01 PM
05/22/2014 9:09 PM
The Fort Mill man police accused as the leader of an alleged Rock Hill gang no longer faces the charge that identifies him as such.
In a York courtroom Thursday afternoon, Antonio Wylie, 21 – the alleged leader of 715 FAM – pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and criminal conspiracy. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dismissed his charge of using threats or violence by a gang member to solicit membership with the right to restore should new evidence surface.
Circuit Court Judge Eugene Griffith sentenced Wylie to 30 months of probation.
“Antonio is going home today,” said Nichole Davis, Wylie’s Rock Hill court-appointed attorney.
Wylie, father to a 6-month-old daughter, was one of 12 people arrested in connection with a January gang round-up that saw several charges filed against alleged members of 715 FAM and 901 KOB (Kash Over Broads), two groups police have labeled as hybrid street gangs that use music videos as smokescreens for illegal activity. Authorities said an escalating feud between the two rival groups manifested in several drive-by shootings.
Wylie was charged with burglary and criminal conspiracy after police say he and two others broke into South Pointe High in December, said Christopher Epting, the assistant York County solicitor who prosecuted Wylie. Wylie and his co-defendants were caught on surveillance video allegedly going into the school’s choir room and stealing $1 and an iPod touch from a student.
Wylie also was the only alleged gang member police charged under the state’s gang law because authorities say he forced prospective 715 members to fight other people to earn a spot on the group.
He was released on bond, which was revoked earlier this month when prosecutors say he sent messages to 715 FAM members on social media and uploaded a music video in which he can be seen “using illegal substances,” presumably marijuana, Epting said. “The hook” of the video, he said, threatened to harm people who messed with the group.
Wylie, 715’s founder, has said the group is not a gang nor involved in criminal activity. Instead, he said, the alleged 715 members accused of committing crimes are overzealous fans who long to be part of the group. He said 715 is merely a group of musical artists writing and singing lyrics about their experiences, and he feels they have been unjustly typecast as a gang.
But on Thursday, Wylie did not address the court or defend 715. Instead, he admitted his guilt in the burglary, replying “yes, sir” when Griffith asked if he was guilty of the crimes.
His time in jail “has been an eye-opener for him,” Davis said. “He realizes he made a terrible mistake.”
After the hearing, Davis said Wylie maintains his statement that 715 is not a gang.
“I haven’t seen anything to indicate otherwise ... it’s just music,” said Davis. The music, she said, is a reflection of what the members see and live everyday. More, she said their lyrics, laden with profanity and derision toward police, do not necessarily mean members will act on what they are singing.
“Not all music is going to be Sugarhill Gang and rainbows and unicorns,” she said. “It’s real ... some people can’t handle real (music).”
Because of his plea to a charge carrying more than a year in prison, Wylie is forbidden from owning or carrying guns for the rest of his life, Epting said. If he’s found with a firearm, he can face federal prosecution.
Charges against Wylie’s two co-defendants, also arrested in the gang round-up, are still pending, he said. Murder, attempted murder and weapons charges against several alleged 715 FAM members are also still pending.
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