A former Boston public school official who recruited at-risk students into the Latin Kings gang and had the students distribute drugs on campus pleaded guilty to racketeering charges on Tuesday, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said.
The former official, Shaun Harrison, 63, faces 218 months, or more than 18 years, in prison under the plea agreement, which was made in a case that targeted dozens of members of the Latin Kings. Mr. Harrison is currently serving a prison sentence for trying to kill one of the students, whom he shot in the back of the head at point-blank range.
Mr. Harrison was hired to serve as an academic dean at English High School in Boston in 2015, months before the shooting. He worked with families to help struggling students and ran an anger-management program for 10 boys at the school, using his position to recruit “a number of the at-risk students” into the gang, prosecutors said.
Mr. Harrison, known as “Rev” or “King Rev,” directed the students that he recruited to sell marijuana and other drugs, which he provided, at the high school, prosecutors said.
“This former high school dean and self-professed anti-violence advocate was supposed to be looking out for the best interests of his students, when in reality he was living a double life as a Latin King, engaging in violence while recruiting at-risk students to traffic drugs and further the insidious needs of the gang,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, said in a statement.
Four of the students whom Mr. Harrison recruited were charged in the federal case against members and associates of the Latin Kings and have each received prison sentences of between 21 months and 32 months. Mr. Harrison is the 60th person to plead guilty in the Latin Kings case, prosecutors said.
In December 2019, more than 500 federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested and charged dozens of leaders and members of the Latin Kings in the Northeast on racketeering, drug conspiracy and firearms charges. Two other defendants are still wanted on federal arrest warrants.
A sentencing hearing for Mr. Harrison is scheduled for Nov. 15. His charge under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
A lawyer for Mr. Harrison declined to comment.
Separately, Mr. Harrison was ordered on Friday to pay $10 million in damages to the student he had recruited to distribute drugs and tried to kill, Luis Rodriguez.
In March 2015, Mr. Harrison came to believe that Mr. Rodriguez had stolen money from him and that he might tell the police about the drug sales, prosecutors said.
That month, Mr. Harrison met with Mr. Rodriguez, then 17, and told him he was taking him to meet girls and to a party, according to a lawsuit Mr. Rodriguez filed in 2019.
While they were walking, Mr. Harrison shot Mr. Rodriguez in the back of the head with a handgun, leaving him bleeding, but Mr. Rodriguez was able to flag down a passing vehicle for help, the lawsuit said.
Mr. Rodriguez has suffered severe emotional distress, psychiatric injury, facial scarring, facial paralysis, hearing loss and other injuries from the shooting, the lawsuit said.
He also sued Boston Public Schools, but the judge dismissed claims against the school district. Mr. Rodriguez’s lawyer has filed an appeal against the ruling.
Mr. Harrison was sentenced in June 2018 to up to 26 years in prison on assault and other charges for the shooting. He continued to associate with other members of the Latin Kings in prison, including to try to identify who contributed to his conviction, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
In 2016, while awaiting trial for the shooting, Mr. Harrison denied that he lived a double life in an interview with a local television station, WHDH.
“I never, never sold drugs, I never sold guns, never turned kids into gang members,” he told the station. “Me? I would not even know how to do that.”