- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Two brothers who already face state charges in a shooting spree that left 20 people hurt at a Mother’s Day parade in 2013 have been indicted on federal charges - along with seven other people allegedly connected to the case.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office said an indictment was unsealed Tuesday charging 25-year-old Shawn Scott, 20-year-old Akein Scott and seven others in a conspiracy involving violations of federal controlled substances and gun control acts. Polite said the indictment specifically charges Shawn and Akein Scott with firing their guns during the Mother’s Day neighborhood “second-line” parade on May 12.

Prosecutors say the nine people indicted are members of the Frenchmen-Derbigny gang.

Also named in the indictment, dated Feb. 27, are Travis Scott, 29; Stanley Scott, 23; Jeremiah Jackson, 23; Gralen Benson, 26; Brian Benson, 24; Crystal Scott, 32; and Richmond Smith, 25. All nine are named in a count alleging conspiracy to distribute substances including heroin and crack cocaine. All except Brian Benson and Crystal Scott also are named in various other firearms and drug counts connected to the alleged conspiracy.

“This indictment is another clear signal that the rules have changed — there are real consequences for violence in our city,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release.

Police said 19 people were hit by gunshots and one person was hurt in the chaos that ensued after gunfire erupted at last year’s festive neighborhood parade organized by the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club and attended by hundreds in the city’s 7th Ward neighborhood. It was a traditional “second line” parade, where watchers often join in behind the participants to form a second line of marchers.

A security video captured one person, identified by police later as Akein Scott, appearing to fire toward the parade and fleeing as members of the crowd fell or ran. Akein and Shawn Scott were arrested within days and bonds were set in excess of $17 million. Each was charged with 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder and other charges.

Convictions on a state charge of attempted second-degree murder carry penalties of up to 50 years in prison. Polite’s news release said the maximum penalty upon conviction on the federal drug conspiracy charge in the indictment announced Tuesday is a life sentence.

Polite said the indictments resulted from an effort by state, local and federal authorities working as part of the city’s Multi-Agency Gang Unit. New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has credited the collaboration with contributing to a drop last year in the number of murders in the city.

“Following one of the most despicable shootings in our city’s recent history, our federal, state and local law enforcement partners collaborated in an unprecedented fashion to identify the allegedly responsible individuals,” Polite said in a joint news release with city police and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Police said ATF agents were the lead agents in the case.

“The collaboration of all partners in the Multi-Agency Gang Unit has proven to be undeniably effective in getting some of the city’s most violent criminals out of our neighborhoods,” Serpas said in the news release.

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