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3rd man held in Folk Nation case

The suspect is charged with wielding a pair of scissors used in carving a gang symbol into another member's chest.

By DUANE BOURNE
Published July 7, 2005


BROOKSVILLE - A third man wanted in connection with carving a pitchfork into the chest of a self-proclaimed Folk Nation gang member has been arrested. And authorities say they have determined that the three men were indeed members of the Chicago alliance.

Joseph Maher, 19, of 925 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Brooksville, was taken into custody Tuesday and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

The instrument: a pair of scissors he allegedly used to carve one of the gang's symbols into the chest of John Wease to prove Wease's allegiance, according to a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report.

Wease's 6- to 8-inch wounds were so deep muscle tissue was visible, but the 21-year-old refused medical attention, the report said.

On Wednesday, Maher was being held at the Hernando County Jail without bail because he had violated the provisions of his community control.

Maher was serving two years on probation for felony battery and battery on a law enforcement officer, court records show.

Suspects Robert Dalton, 19, and Donald Strickland, 20, both of Spring Hill, remained in jail Wednesday in lieu of $10,000 bail in last Thursday's incident involving Wease, which took place at a party on Elgin Boulevard in Spring Hill.

Dalton and Strickland were arrested Thursday night and charged as principals to aggravated battery.

Although sheriff's officials say they believe the three are all Folk Nation members, they continued to maintain that last week's incident was not necessarily a sign of increasing gang activity in Hernando County.

They did say they will continue to monitor people who meet the criteria of gang members.

"Yes, they claim to be Folk Nation. We consider them Folk Nation," sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Donna Black said Wednesday. "We actively monitor any type of gang activity where people claim to be gang members."

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

[Last modified July 7, 2005, 01:01:15]


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