The first of 13 defendants is set to plead guilty in the federal racketeering case against accused New Orleans crime leader Telly Hankton, several relatives and alleged crime partners.
Nakia Hankton, 39, who is six days younger than his notorious cousin, is scheduled to plead guilty April 27 before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, according to a federal court filing Tuesday.
His attorney, Aris Cox, confirmed the expected guilty plea but declined to say what crimes Nakia Hankton will admit to.
The agreement with U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office appears to signal the first crack among the defendants in the Hankton case since federal prosecutors first unfurled an indictment in October 2012, naming several of the 13 defendants in numerous killings and attempts to foil the criminal justice system.
Federal agents arrested several of the defendants — including Telly Hankton’s mother, Shirley — in an early morning sweep the day of the indictment.
The guilty plea for Nakia Hankton comes less than two months before the Hankton clan is set to stand trial over a 24-count indictment.
None of the violence that prosecutors attribute to the Hanktons, allegedly to further a Central City drug-dealing conspiracy dating back to 1996, involved Nakia Hankton, whom the indictment describes as one of four “distributors” for the drug enterprise.
He is named in the main racketeering count against all 13 defendants, accused of bringing in more than four pounds of cocaine from Houston in 1997, plus weapons possession and other drug crimes spanning several years. The indictment also names him in drug and firearms conspiracy counts.
Telly Hankton was convicted in state court in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for the 2008 murder of rival Darnell Stewart on South Claiborne Avenue. He was accused of standing over Stewart and firing four bullets into his cheek.
Stewart had landed on the pavement after being struck by a car allegedly driven by another Hankton cousin, Andre “Reese” Hankton, sending Stewart flying about 20 feet into the air, according to testimony at Telly Hankton’s trial.
Prosecutors said Stewart was killed in retaliation for the killing of George “Cup” Hankton, an older cousin, the year before.
Along with Stewart, the other man who was suspected but never charged in Cup Hankton’s murder, Jessie “TuTu” Reed, was gunned down in 2009, allegedly by accused Hankton hit man Walter Porter, Kevin Jackson and Telly Hankton, who was free on $1 million bail at the time.
A witness to Reed’s killing, Hasan “Hockie” Williams, was murdered two weeks later, allegedly by Porter and another Hankton cousin, Thomas “Squirt” Hankton.
Porter was convicted in March of an unrelated murder and awaits federal sentencing. He also is accused of firing on a witness to Stewart’s killing in an attempt to keep the witness, John Matthews, from testifying against Telly Hankton.
According to the feds, Porter killed Matthews’ brother, Curtis Matthews, in a revenge murder following Telly Hankton’s conviction in the murder case.
Prosecutors in 2015 agreed not to seek the death penalty for Telly Hankton, Andre Hankton, Thomas Hankton, Porter and Jackson.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.