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Five days before Deandre L. Douglas was set to go on trial, the accused leader of the Bardstown Money Gang accepted a plea deal offered by prosecutors.
Douglas, 20, agreed to plead guilty on three pending cases Wednesday and settled before he was set to go to jury trial Monday.
He is the second of three suspected gang members to plead guilty to the assault of a New Haven man in the parking lot of Huddle House in late November.
The Lebanon resident pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree assault, second-degree robbery, complicity to theft by unlawful taking under $500, first-degree complicity to possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and complicity to possession of drug paraphernalia.
As part of his plea agreement, Douglas will serve eight years in prison, which will run consecutively with a 12-year sentence in Marion County, for a total of 20 years in prison, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Chip McKay. He will potentially be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence, or about four years not counting any time credited for good behavior, prosecutors said.
He is also ordered to pay restitution to 62-year-old Joseph “Billy” Hagan, whom he assaulted at Huddle House.
Douglas will be sentenced June 20 in Nelson County Circuit Court.
Douglas and Darrian D. Ellery, 19, have both pleaded guilty to the Huddle House assault.
Martin “Rashaud” Barber, 23, is the final accused assailant who is still scheduled for trial.
Douglas, Barber and Ellery are believed to be a part of the Bardstown Money Gang, or the BMG. Douglas has been named as the suspected ringleader of the group.
Hagan sustained a broken nose and jaw, among other injuries, from the November assault.
The assault charge Barber pleaded guilty to stemmed from the Huddle House beating. The other charges stemmed from his eventual arrest about two months later and a different assault and robbery unrelated to the Huddle House incident.
Police arrested Douglas at 113 Bard Homes Apartments in Bardstown on Jan. 31 after police received a tip on his whereabouts. He was found inside a bathroom in the apartment. Police seized a plastic bag containing a substance that police believe is cocaine and a 9 mm handgun. As he was taken to a police cruiser, Douglas became combative and tried to break away from officers.
On Feb. 6, Douglas and another person stole money and a cell phone from a man at Maywood Chevron Food Mart.
Earlier last month, Ellery, 19, of Bardstown, accepted a plea deal before he was set to go to trial. Ellery was sentenced to three years in prison for one count of complicity to assault under extreme emotional disturbance.
Police also believe the BMG have been involved in other assault cases in Nelson County.
A trial for Barber, of Bardstown, is set to begin on May 28.
BMG YouTube channel
If Barber goes to trial, there are two videos that could be potentially damning. The first is from security cameras at Huddle House.
But the second is one in which he was apparently a willing participant, and posted on YouTube.
A YouTube channel by the name of “502migo” features several rap videos featuring purported members of the BMG. One video in particular, the “BMG Anthem Official Video,” posted March 25, alludes to the Huddle House incident, and directly references a robbery at Maywood Food Mart and the arrest of Douglas, Ellery and Barber.
Barber, or someone who strongly resembles his mug shot provided by the Nelson County Jail, appears in the background of the video as one of several participants dancing and rapping.
The “BMG Anthem Official Video” begins with a voice-over recording of newscasts saying, “Several police believe it’s tied to a new group named the Bardstown Money Gang.”
The video also said Douglas’ Facebook page is filled with photos and comments referencing his membership in BMG. It also said Douglas was arrested at the Bard Homes Apartment complex “where police seized cocaine and a handgun.”
Police verified they have a copy of the video and have seen the other BMG videos on YouTube, but would not comment on the content or the investigation.
“I’m aware of it and have seen some of the videos posted by the BMG,” Bardstown Police Captain Tom Roby said, declining to go into specifics.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry Geoghegan also wouldn’t comment on the video.
Use of social media in the courtroom
The proliferation of social media, websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have become ways for people to keep in touch with one another.
But statuses, photos and videos are often shared among more than just friends.
Social media platforms have also become an avenue for lawyers and prosecutors to gather evidence in criminal defense, civil and family court cases.
One media outlet reported that police were able to find a burglary suspect after he posted photos of the items he stole on Facebook. In another instance, a woman was convicted of a DUI, but her plea deal was changed drastically after the judge found out about her Facebook status saying that she got “so drunk” before her court appearance.
“If you put something on Facebook or YouTube, it should be something you don’t mind anyone in the world seeing it,” said Hardin County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mark Easton, who has no connection to the charges against Douglas, Barber and Ellery. “I think there is always a danger with social media because you cannot control who will see it. Occasionally, we’ll have a situation with information coming through social media about people and it has been introduced in court” in criminal cases and family court.
Chad McCoy, a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer with McCoy Law Offices in Bardstown, said he has seen social media used more in civil cases, than criminal cases.
McCoy, who does not represent the three men accused in the Huddle House beating, used the example of a case he worked on several years ago where a woman broke seven or eight vertebrae.
The defense attorney printed photos of her on spring break that she posted on Facebook, just in case the woman would argue that she couldn’t do anything because of her injuries, he said.
In criminal defense cases, McCoy said he has seen text messages used as evidence more than Facebook.
If someone admits to a crime on social media, it’s the same as admitting to that crime in a public domain, McCoy said.
“One hundred percent it could be used against” someone, he said.
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