Illinois

Purported Hobos gang leader testifies at his Chicago trial

The purported leader of Chicago's powerful Hobos street gang surprised observers by choosing to testify at his federal racketeering trial and claimed no such gang existed.

Gregory "Bowlegs" Chester spoke Wednesday about growing up poor and facing ridicule because of his severely deformed legs caused by a rare bone disease.

He told jurors in Chicago "there's no such thing" as a Hobos gang and that a tattoo on his arm emblazoned with the word "hobos" was merely a tribute to a dead friend. Asked if he ordered hits on rivals, he answered firmly, "Never."

Chester and five co-defendants are charged with racketeering that prosecutors say included murders. Prosecutors must prove the men coordinated their crimes. Chester conceded he sold heroin but said the co-defendants weren't involved in each other's crimes.