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Junior Gustafson convicted in second Beat Down Posse trial

March 20, 2012

A joint release from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - A Hennepin County jury today convicted Joseph Duane Gustafson Jr., 37, of racketeering in the Beat Down Posse case.

The jury found Gustafson, also known as Little Joe to distinguish him from his father Big Joe Gustafson, guilty on eleven other offenses that made up the overall racketeering case. Those other charges included terroristic threats, kidnapping and multiple counts of mortgage fraud, drug trafficking and unlawful possession of a firearm. The jury acquitted him of second-degree assault.

With the convictions, which the jury brought back after about eight hours of deliberation beginning Monday afternoon, the two leaders of the Gustafson crime organization, sometimes called the Beat Down Posse, are now facing long prison terms. Joseph Gustafson Sr. was convicted in January.

“The Beat Down Posse is no more,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Thanks to the fine efforts of our prosecutors, Minneapolis police, Minnesota Department of Commerce, FBI and IRS investigators, the Gustafsons and their followers can no longer terrorize Minneapolis’ North Side. I couldn’t be happier.”

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Insurance Fraud Division received some of the first tips that led to the charges. Commerce Department investigators were instrumental in helping secure Gustafson's arrest and conviction.

“Insurance fraud was the Achilles’ heel that helped bring down one of North Minneapolis’ most violent and notorious gangs,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We are pleased to finally see justice in this case.”

Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Bill Richardson and Assistant Hennepin County Attorneys Amber Hawkins and Hans Larson spent more than two weeks presenting the case to the jury.

With the help of former Beat Down Posse gang members, the prosecutors laid out for the jury how the Gustafsons used their bail bond business as a front to terrorize people in the neighborhood, to deal drugs and kidnap and beat people who did not do what they told them. In addition, Little Joe used straw buyers and phony employment information on mortgage forms to illegally obtain mortgages to purchase four properties.

Sentencing is set for April 24 and prosecutors will be seeking a sentence of 20 years. Big Joe Gustafson was sentenced earlier this month to 15 years in prison following his conviction for racketeering, arson, assault, kidnapping and accessory after the fact.

A list of charges can be found here.