The last time Chicago street gang the Almighty Gaylords hit in the media was back in August 2011. Early morning police raids scooped up nine gang members for illegal gun possession and sales. The tv news helicopters broadcast footage of stocky middle-aged men sitting around suburban gardens in their underwear while cops searched houses.
The days when the Gaylords were local boys defending a shrinking island of white inner city Chicago against multiculturalism were long gone. Now the gang was an amputated limb of its former self, a group of fortysomethings with prison records who’d made their peace with rival Hispanic and black gangs to sell drugs and guns in suburban places like Addison and Elmhurst and Villa Park.
The 2011 raid took out the Gaylord’s main faces, including James Grace aka Mega, the 40-year-old leader of the gang’s Addison faction. And he’d been turned in by one of his own.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had been investigating the gang for years looking to get something on gunrunning and illegal arms sales. Most of the Gaylords had criminal records, which made it a felony to even possess a firearm. Selling guns could earn them a ten year stretch inside.
In January 2009 a member of the gang approached the ATF with a proposition. He would inform on anyone for cash. The informer had a drug problem and had done time for it. He needed money.
The ATF dug a little deeper and discovered their man had joined the Sayre Park faction of the Gaylords back in 1991. The ATF had little interest in that part of the city but knew gun deals were going down in suburban Addison. The informer got himself transferred and wriggled into Grace’s circle.
The informer claimed that James Grace was stockpiling guns for all the Gaylord factions across Chicago. He distributed weapons to gang members who needed them, bought and sold guns to anyone else he trusted. The guns were stored at the Lombard home of 42-year-old Joseph Kruzel, a rare Gaylord without a criminal record, enabling him to own guns legally. The informer also told ATF agents that 56-year-old Daniel Springhorn aka Stone Greaser and 46-year-old Edward Rand aka Pee Wee were big players in the Gaylords’ gun scene.
The ATF liked what it heard. Over the next two years it paid the informer $30,000 for his efforts.
Make the Deal
From late 2010 to the summer 2011 the informer went on a gun buying spree. The delay was caused by the informer getting arrested on a narcotics charge and doing one year in prison. The ATF stuck with him.
Most of the deals fell through but the informer claimed Grace, Kruzel, and Jennifer Millhorn, the 24-year-old girlfriend of Gaylord Sergio Toutges, sold him a revolver; Rand and Springhorn sold him an AK-47; Sprinhorn sold ammunition for the AK-47; Rand and his wife Brenda sold him a .22 rifle; Kruzel and 50-year-old Bobby Price aka Bear (like Kruzel, one of the few Gaylords without a criminal record) sold him a .40 automatic; 27-year-old Christopher Battaglia sold him a .22 rifle; and Kruzel sold him a box of .22 ammunition.
The informer failed to get 39-year-old Toutges aka Little Rat to sell him a pistol, despite the pair having a long history together than included doing time in the same prison and a common interest in drugs. Despite the lack of a sale Toutges had flashed around enough guns to leave himself open to illegal weapons possession.
The ATF were pleased with their haul even when they discovered the informer had been smoking drugs during one gun deal. Agents defended their confidential informant’s credibility in court documents.
‘The CI has provided timely and reliable information concerning the illegal activities of GRACE and other Gaylords as detailed below. A substantial portion of the CI’s information has been corroborated by independent investigation, including physical surveillance, controlled firearms and ammunition purchases, and consensually–recorded telephone calls and conversations.‘
The Gaylord gang members were arrested in August 2011.
The ATF informer was a flaky drug abuser but he had audio and video recordings of the deals. The transcripts were full of gun talk from Grace:
‘I personally like the .357 revolvers. That’s my favorite.‘
Wheedling from the informer:
‘Would you be interested in selling that .25? It’s not like you ain’t got enough to go around. You got like four, five, six of them motherfuckers.‘
Racism from Toutges about his new revolver, which he claimed had been stolen from a police officer:
‘I can’t wait to unload on a nigger with it.‘
Desperation from Price:
‘I guess I’m trying to sell my fucking gun . . . they are going to turn my electric off if I don’t have $200 by today.‘
And threats from Price to the informer:
‘If I lose my fucking world dude I’m gonna attack you like a pack of wolves cause I’m doing it for my son, my son graduates tomorrow‘.
The ATF made a big show of the case with press releases and news interviews. The media braced for a big trial. Instead, the arrested Gaylords disappeared off the crime columns and never returned.
It’s not clear what happened to the trial. Perhaps some Gaylords pleaded guilty for reduced sentences, some cases were dropped, the informer’s evidence was less solid than it appeared. The media never followed up the case.
If the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate finder can be trusted then Grace and Springhorn got prison and were out by early 2014. Edward Rand may have died in prison. Sergio Toutges avoided jail time, married Jennifer, was picked up along with his wife for burglary in 2012, then got $64,000 from Chicago police in compensation for an arrest-related beating two years later. By then he was doing hard time for burglary and drugs. Other Gaylords are impossible to trace.
Whatever happened, the arrests were another sign of the Gaylords’ decline from Chicago power brokers to suburban gunrunners. Some claim the gang is still active, out of sight of the police and media; others that its glory days are long behind it.
Take a look at this post for an update on the Gaylords.
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