Playboy Bloods gang member abruptly pleads guilty in racketeering case

A member of the Playboy Bloods street gang abruptly pleaded guilty Tuesday on the second day of his federal racketeering trial.

Markette Tillman, 31, pleaded guilty outside the presence of the jury to a drug trafficking charge and a racketeering conspiracy charge that included his admitted participation in the 2004 slaying of a security guard.

As part of his plea deal with prosecutors, Tillman agreed to accept no less than a 23-year prison sentence.

Senior District Judge Kent Dawson set his sentencing for Oct. 28 and then brought the jurors back to dismiss them.

Tillman, who is in federal custody, is the 10th and final defendant convicted in the racketeering case that was filed in 2008.

“We will use federal resources to prosecute street gang members who commit cowardly and horrible crimes in our community,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said. “I commend the many law enforcement officers who worked on this investigation and assisted us in ensuring a conviction in this case.”

In October another gang member, Jacorey Taylor, was sentenced to life in federal prison for participating in a separate 2004 retaliation murder and a 2002 armed robbery of a Henderson casino.

Taylor, 31, was found guilty at trial in May 2013 on several charges, including engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, using a firearm during a crime of violence and participating in a drug conspiracy.

The Playboy Bloods primarily dealt crack cocaine in a housing complex known as the “Jets.” The complex, formally called Sherman Garden Annex, is at H and Doolittle streets, according to the indictment.

During the course of the FBI-led investigation, members were captured on video and audio tape selling crack cocaine to undercover informants.

They used violence, including murder, to protect their criminal enterprise and often faced off against rival gangs. They also targeted security officers assigned to the housing complex, prosecutors alleged.

Security guard Brian Wilcox was one of the victims.

In January 2004, Wilcox was killed while attempting to resolve a disturbance. Sensing he would be better off waiting for help, Wilcox, 29, left on his bicycle. He was shot in the back and later died.

Taylor was convicted of participating in the November 2004 slaying of another man, Billy Ray Thomas.

Gang members shot and killed Thomas while he was working on his car at the Pecos Terrace Apartments on East Lake Mead Boulevard. He was shot in retaliation for a rival gang’s slaying of a Playboy Bloods leader, according to court documents.

Several of the Playboy Bloods, mistakenly believing the Crips gang had killed their leader, drove around Crips territory until they came across Thomas, prosecutors alleged.

Thomas, who was shot multiple times in the back, was not a Crips member.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Dickinson and Phillip Smith, Jr. and Kevin Rosenberg, a trial attorney with the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section in Washington.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.