by Doug Brown
Maceo Moore, a 38-year-old local rapper known as "Chase", was sentenced to 17-1/2 years in federal prison for heroin distribution as part of what authorities called the largest ever heroin bust in the region, snagging more than 90 people on federal and state charges.
The bust was was featured an October 2013 Scene cover story called "Inside the Biggest Heroin Bust in Northeast Ohio History: The documentary film crew, the Southern pipeline, and the brazen Cleveland kingpins." Moore featured prominently in that piece, as well as this September 2013 blog post called "Watch A Trailer For A Movie About Heroin Trafficking In Cleveland Created By A Major Dealer Just Indicted For Heroin Trafficking in Cleveland."
Plain Dealer reporter James McCarty was at the sentencing, and once you get past the first five sentences featuring terms nobody uses any more ("gangsta rap") and wrong information (his movie was already released — we watched it on DVD last Fall — and there was never any "Hollywood premier" or "Red Carpet"), he has a solid write up of what went on in the courthouse this week. Read that here for the details of the sentencing.
Here's how Maceo Moore was introduced in Scene's October cover story (starting on page 2):
The Documentary Film Crew
Most people in the Cleveland hip-hop scene and the East 117th neighborhood know 37-year-old Maceo Moore better as "Chase."
Moore's a high-profile rapper and an even more high-profile gangster who ran the streets of East 117th and St. Clair flaunting his wealth with predictable bravado and recklessness, bragging about his disposable income, luxury cars, drug dealing prowess and power in the streets on social media and online.
That intersection shows up prominently in most of his videos and his exploits in lyrics.
The 2008 music video, for example, of "Out Tha Roof" with Chip Tha Ripper and Ray Jr., has all the classic "Chase" elements: holding handfuls of $100 bills, making it rain, driving his Mercedes Benz, wearing expensive jewelry. One shot that accompanies the line, "Money ain't a thing so we throwing stacks out the roof" shows Chase standing through the sunroof of a moving Rolls Royce tossing an amount of cash worth more than many of the vacant homes away on those streets. Growls Ray Jr. in the song: "Fuck what you heard / Nigga I'm the truth / This is a hundred grand / And now it's out the roof." In another cash-tossing scene, he's leaning against his Mercedes parked in front of the local corner store with a clearly visible sign that reads "WE ACCEPT FOOD STAMPS".
His first verse in the song is, "Point seen / Money Gone / They call me Paper Chase / Because my Money long / We hustle strong / Fuck the feds / If these niggas snitching / Then we busting heads."
Moore, it would seem, was not worried about snitches or the Feds, because his very public persona didn't stop at social media and music videos—he wrote and starred in a feature-length movie, The Game Ain't 4 Everybody, based on his experiences. Real guns, real drugs, real money, all in the backdrop of Moore's self-penned confessional flick of dealing and robbing.
When Moore's name showed up in information from a confidential informant, the Feds had an easy in to Moore's world given his propensity for self promotion and Hollywood aspirations.
"In 2012, taking advantage of Moore's interest in movie production," a federal search warrant details, "agents from the FBI planned an undercover operation in which undercover FBI agents would pose as documentary film journalists interested in filming a documentary about Moore's 'story,' as a person who had grown up in a dangerous neighborhood and achieved a degree of success through criminal activity in part."
As if there were any doubt, it worked. Moore accepted the "documentary crew's" offer on June 12, talking to undercover agents on the phone and in person.
He talked about how often he would rob other drug dealers: "Yeah that was our job, kicking doors. We worked every day, around the clock. If you had it, and we wanted it, was coming to get it." For how long?: "Shit, it ain't never, it don't stop. That's what it was and what it is."
When asked how they chose robbery targets, he explained it was the ones who flaunted their wealth and sometimes used woman to gain the trust of the targets to find out where they lived: "Now we know where he live at, we gonna go pay him a visit."
He explained how he got so much money: "I sold drugs, but I started getting more money when I started taking from other drug dealers. That's how, honestly, that's how I got my money. Whatever they got. Money, jewelry, drugs, whatever they got, we going to get it. Flat out."
He explained his first big robbery: "I went and I followed this dude, and we followed to his house, we did our little surveillance or whatever, went back in there, and he had, matter of fact, he had like two, two hundred and thirty thousand dollars in his house, in a safe." He went on to describe it being his career: "People been robbing people since, juvenile, juvenile, all the way up. When I made up my mind to do it as I was grown, I said 'I'm gonna make a living out of this because, this what I'm gonna do to survive, until I can invest my money elsewhere,' and that's what I did."
His movie, he told them, was all real: "In the movie, all that money, it was real money, it was my money." (A source close to the film also told Scene the guns were real too, and sometimes loaded).
The undercover agent suggested Moore put his money in the bank to avoid being robbed: "I don't even have a bank account, I can't put my money in the bank." Why not? "Because of where I get it from. They're going to ask me 'Where'd you get this from?'"
The FBI tapped his phones, tracked his cars via GPS, and followed Moore as he led drug deals and robbed more drug dealers during the investigation as more of his East 117th associates, including Keith Ricks, fell into the Feds' crosshairs. (Moore and Ricks are also currently being investigated by Cleveland police for several unsolved homicides.)
Moore was one of six guys the feds named as leaders of the massive ring. Of that group, Per McCarty and federal court records, Maurice Golston is serving a 14-year sentence and Marcus Blue was sentenced to three. Keith Ricks — perhaps the biggest target — his brother Dionte Thompson, and Leamon Shephard are still waiting on their sentences.