|Vice Lord gang member sentenced to federal prison|
|Thursday, September 13, 2012|
By PATRICK HALL
The first of 17 members of the Vice Lords gang pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court to charges of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana after he was indicted following a three-year investigation by local, state and federal law enforcement.
Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen said Christopher Nicholson, a.k.a. Chris Lopez, 35, of Nashville, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Thursday, Sept. 6, to 151 months in federal prison with three years of supervised parole.
“He was the first of the 17 indicted for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana,” Bowen said.
Bowen said the three-year probe into the Vice Lords gang was a joint investigation between the LPD, Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with other Middle Tennessee law enforcement agencies.
In September 2011, 17 individuals allegedly tied to the Vice Lords gang were indicted by a federal grand jury. According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the gang operated in Wilson, Putnam and Davidson Counties.
The indictment said the manner in which the conspiracy to distribute several controlled substances included the actual and attempted acts of violence including murder, attempted murder, and assault to protect the gang’s criminal operations.
"They were running a multi-jurisdictional gang throughout Middle Tennessee,” Bowen said. “He is the first to be sentenced.”
Bowen said the minimum sentence for those indicted is 10 years in federal prison. Nicholson’s 151 months amounts to 12 years, 7 months in prison.
“He will have to serve at least 85 percent of that,” Bowen noted, meaning Nicholson will serve at least 10 years, 8 months in prison.