Minneapolis gang member orders hits on witnesses, gets extra 70 months in prison

- Convicted Minneapolis gang member Tywin Bender, aka Finn Winn, had another 70 months added to his prison sentence this week for ordering hits on witnesses. A jury found Bender, 26, guilty in April of conspiracy to retaliate against two federal witnesses. Bender previously pleaded guilty to federal gun charges in a related case.

Bender is a known member of the Stick Up Boys gang, based in north Minneapolis. He was one of 11 people charged in November 2014 with illegal weapons possession. One of his co-defendants, Veltrez “Chief” Black, took his case to trial and was found guilty. During that trial, two other gang members -- Antonio Lewis and Kibbie Walker -- testified against Black.

The day after Black’s conviction, Bender used a prison phone to call a woman, and instructed her to write an email to two fellow gang members who were serving time at the state prison in Rush City, Minn. – the same prison that held witnesses Lewis and Walker at the time. The email stated, “…Bogus [Lewis’s nickname] is a rat. He took the stand on Chief. Smash him as soon as you see him. Green light. The n---- Kibbie took the stand too on Chief. Let everybody know. No talking, no explanations.”

The hit that Bender ordered on the witnesses was foiled when a Department of Corrections employee noticed the threatening language in the email and steps were taken to protect the intended Lewis and Walker.

“Our system of justice depends on the willingness of witnesses to take the stand and testify truthfully,” said Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen. “When Tywin Bender ordered two federal witnesses to be beaten in retaliation for their testimony against a violent gang leader, he committed an assault on the judicial system itself. This prosecution shows that such assaults will not go unpunished.”

Bender is currently serving his sentence in Stillwater, Minn.

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