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Is Dayton’s Diamond Cut a music label or street gang? Here’s what both sides say


The “Diamond Cut” group in Dayton is either a music label for new artists, a street gang dealing drugs or a movement, depending on who is talking.

Ten years ago, Dayton rapper Clarence “Chaos” or “CCSERVA” Winn Jr. told this news organization that a criminal record “helps in this industry,” but said, “Not to say go out and commit a crime. The streets empowered me. I didn’t choose this.”

Winn pleaded guilty Tuesday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court to one of six drug- and gun-related counts on which he was indicted. Winn will be sentenced Sept. 12.

READ MORE: Dayton rap artist ‘Chaos’ pleads guilty to distributing drugs

Last week, Darrius “Tay” Reynolds was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for a “mule” role in which he delivered drugs and was expected to collect cash.

Larry Winn, Clarence’s brother, pleaded guilty in March and is scheduled to be sentenced June 19. Larry Winn could serve more than a decade in prison, according to court records.

Here’s what both sides say about Diamond Cut:

What members have said: In 2008, law enforcement said area gangs would feature rap artists on their MySpace pages. Winn responded.

“Diamond Cut is not in any way shape or form a gang,” Winn wrote on his page at that time. “It’s a lot of people out there that scream Diamond Cut for the wrong reasons. Some people give it a bad name.”

Symbols: Young adults at Winn’s shows and area parties threw up a Diamond Cut symbol — two peace signs with hands held together sideways to resemble a diamond-shaped formation.

“Whoever throws up ‘D-Cut’ has it wrong,” Winn said in 2008 of the hand sign. “I can’t be responsible for fans of my music or my friends.”

Authorities call it a gang: Dayton police and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office have called the group a criminal gang. A 10-count indictment involving purported members came out in 2007.

Clarence Winn said he came up with the “D-Cut” idea in 1998 and a few close friends and family who helped him with music got tattoos.

The 2007 indictment alleged “supermarket traffic” at a building on North Main Street where police found heroin, crack, powder cocaine and men shooting dice. They had “D-Cut” tattooed in script letters on their left hands.

Registered company: Twice arrested and given probation for state gun charges, Winn registered the FamFirst record company with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office in 2005.

FamFirst sold more than 200,000 compact discs of Winn’s single “I Get It In” (as “Chaos”), which was enough to earn him the top spot on Billboard’s Hot Singles chart for independent artists.

5 prosecutions in 1 round: In 2015, the last of five alleged Diamond Cut members pleaded guilty to selling more than 100 grams of heroin stemming from a 2012 arrest.

The defendants in that round of prosecutions included Brandon Lee “Ace” Smith, Quinton “Big Mike” Clemons, Leo “Butter” Boykins, Quinten “Q” Robinson and Marcus “Roscoe” Ross.

Bust in 2017 led to current charges: Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said a “substantial” fentanyl trafficking bust was made in March 2017, which led to the current charges. Plummer said then that $160,000 worth of drugs was seized.

Recent cases: In a prosecution memo before Reynolds’ sentencing, assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi wrote the group had more convictions than hit records: “While Mr. Reynolds characterizes this entity as a record label, many of its associates – whether classified as aspiring artists (in the defendant’s view) or members of criminal street gang (in the opinion of law enforcement) – have worn a path into the federal courthouse in Dayton on various drug trafficking charges.”

RELATED STORIES

Alleged gang member pleads guilty in drug trafficking case

Another local gang maintains power and influence in Dayton

Substantial fentanyl operation busted

Dayton rapper detained before trial on drug trafficking, gun charges

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

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