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Man held as gang suspect

Already in jail on a robbery charge, he now is accused of trying to recruit teenagers into a gang with roots in Chicago and involving them in a break-in.

By DUANE BOURNE
Published February 19, 2005


BROOKSVILLE - A second man suspected of being a gang member is being held at Hernando County Jail on charges he tried to recruit teens to the Folk Nation alliance and encouraged them to burglarize a Spring Hill home last year.

The arrest of Kevin Demkowski, 28, on Wednesday came despite recent attempts by the Sheriff's Office to downplay the emergence of gang activity in Hernando County. Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Alan Arick said, however, that Demkowski is not tied to the recent arrest of 21-year-old Christopher Heisler, who reputedly belonged to the same gang.

Heisler was arrested in January after being accused of branding three 13-year-olds with a knife in an effort to draft them into Folk Nation.

"I think we have had minor incidents of alleged gang members trying to get something together, but I don't think we are seeing an increase in gang activity," Arick said. "You start hearing more about this because we are taking a more proactive approach."

Demkowski, who is at the Hernando County Jail also awaiting trial on robbery charges, was charged with three counts of recruiting criminal street gang members, a felony classified under the state's Criminal Street Gang Prevention Act of 1996.

The charges came after authorities connected him to a Dec. 29 burglary, in which the suspects shimmied through an open window on Greenview Avenue and stole and later sold a PlayStation 2 video game console for $60, a sheriff's report said.

During the investigation into the break-in, sheriff's deputies identified two suspects: 18-year-old Christopher Rivera and a 14-year-old whose name is being withheld by the Times because of his age.

The teens were arrested on Wednesday and charged with burglary and dealing stolen property. Before they confessed to the theft, the teen suspects told a sheriff's deputy that Demkowski incited them to commit the property crime and also tried to initiate them into Folk Nation, a gang he claimed to be the leader of, the report stated.

According to a report filed by Deputy Pete Ciucci, a community policing officer who investigated the first case, Demkowski sold drugs in front of the teens, carried weapons for intimidation and wore a blue bandanna to identify himself with the Folk Nation of Chicago.

While Demkowski's arrest marked the second gang-related arrest in three weeks, the Sheriff's Office could not tie Demkowski's recruitment efforts to Heisler's or say if the men were acquainted. Arick added that the agency is not aware if Demkowski tried to recruit others.

On Jan. 28, Heisler was charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse and recruiting a criminal street gang member after he was accused of using a heated knife to carve 3-inch crosses into the teens' arms, leaving permanent scars.

"They claim to be from the same type of gang, but we have not connected them directly to the same group," Arick said. "They were really trying to do the same thing and claimed allegiance to the same group."

Born in Chicago, Demkowski goes by the alias "Majic" on the streets. He is also known to law enforcement to be involved in criminal activity.

Since 1994, he has been arrested for a number of offenses, including battery, false imprisonment, interfering with child custody and possession of marijuana, which were dropped by the State Attorney's Office. In at least one case, the charge was dropped because the victim did not show up, records show.

In September, Demkowski was sentenced to eight months in county jail for stealing a motor vehicle. He has been in custody on a robbery charge since Feb. 5.

On Friday, Demkowski was being held at the Hernando County Jail on $15,000 bail.

Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or dbourne@sptimes.com

[Last modified February 19, 2005, 00:57:17]


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