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‘The architect of ruin for an entire generation’: High school dean and secret Latin Kings gang member who shot student is sentenced for racketeering

Shaun Harrison (Boston Police Dept.)

Shaun Harrison (Boston Police Dept.)

A 63-year-old former public high school dean in Boston who was living a “double life” as a member of the Latin Kings gang when he shot one of his students in the head has been sentenced to nearly two decades in prison on federal gang-related charges.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel ordered Shaun Harrison, also known as “Rev,” to serve 218 months — just over 18 years — in a federal prison for using his position with Boston Public Schools to target, recruit, and groom vulnerable youths into the violent gang, culminating with him shooting a 17-year-old student in 2015, the Justice Department announced.

Harrison had pleaded guilty in August 2022 to one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as a RICO conspiracy. Harrison is already serving a state prison sentence of up to 26 years after he was convicted in 2018 of attempting to execute his former student, firing a single shot into the back of the boy’s head.

“The level of betrayal and dishonesty exhibited here is astonishing,” United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said in a DOJ statement. “Harrison was in a position of trust, but was actually a dangerous predator. As the academic dean at a Boston Public high school he lured and manipulated teenagers into a criminal enterprise that specialized in street terrorism.  Harrison was the architect of ruin for an entire generation of promising young lives — exclusively targeting and grooming vulnerable, at-risk youth. The very thing he was hired to work against.”

Authorities said that Harrison — who was hired as a student dean at The English High School in Boston in 2015 — recruited students into the gang and directed them to sell marijuana and other drugs for him.

In March 2015, Harrison came to believe that one of the students distributing drugs for him had stolen money from him, no longer wished to sell drugs, and may tell the police about Harrison’s crimes. On March 3, 2015, Harrison met up with this student, pulled out a handgun, and shot the student in the back of the head at point blank range. This shooting was captured on video by a surveillance camera in the area later obtained by authorities.

While the victim miraculously survived the attempted execution, authorities say he still suffers from partial face paralysis, neuropathy in his neck and face, and permanent hearing loss, among other “significant injuries.”

Authorities say that even after his arrest for the attempted murder of a student, Harrison continued to associate with Latin Kings members. Prosecutors say the Latin Kings supported Harrison during his state incarceration and discussed his loyalty to the gang and his refusal to implicate any other gang members in the scheme.

“Shaun Harrison led a double life – using his position as a high school dean to engage in violence and recruit at-risk youth into a violent criminal enterprise,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division said in a statement. “Today’s sentence ensures he will stay in prison and off our city streets for a significant period of time.”

A federal grand jury returned an indictment in December 2019 alleging racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy, and firearms charges against 62 leaders, members and associates of the Latin Kings in an investigation called “Operation Throne Down.” Since the indictments, 60 of the defendants in the case have pleaded guilty and 59 defendants have been sentenced. The two remaining individuals continue to be fugitives from justice.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.