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LA Punk Rocker, Screenwriter, Alleged Gang Leader Elgin Nathan James Arrested in Silver Lake

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Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 1:04 PM

A clearer picture is emerging of Elgin Nathan James, who was arrested yesterday in Silver Lake on charges of extorting a "popular recording artist from the Chicago area." James, who founded an organization called FSU, which the authorities say is little more than a street gang, ran with a pretty impressive group of Angelenos. More on that in a sec.

click to enlarge From Sundance to Indictment: Elgin James at the Sundance Labs earlier this year.
  • From Sundance to Indictment: Elgin James at the Sundance Labs earlier this year.

According to Reuters:

Elgin Nathan James, a self-proclaimed founding member of Boston-based FSU -- which stands for "Friends Stand United" -- was arrested on Monday by FBI agents at his Los Angeles home. The attempted extortion charge was then unsealed by the prosecutor's office in Chicago.

According to Reuters:

FSU boasted in videos dating to 2004 about beatings it administered to punk music fans and performers. The aim was to establish control at clubs and concert venues and drive "Nazi skinheads" out, according to prosecutors.

The Department of Justice press release goes into detail about James' and FSU's history:

In a documentary-style video entitled "Boston Beatdown II," produced in 2004, James and other FSU members described the circumstances surrounding FSU's formation and existence and boasted about the gang's beatings and violent methods used to carry them out. FSU members are shown repeatedly beating individuals at hardcore punk rock concerts and on Boston streets. In October 2008, FSU was featured in a History Channel episode of "Gangland," called "Rage Against Society." James and other FSU members who were interviewed described the formation of FSU in Boston and its development into a national street gang during 2004-2006.

Specifically, an incident in Chicago was James' unraveling, according to the FBI; a member of an unnamed band was touring in Boston, and had a run-in with someone in "Rock Band A":

In July and August 2005, the complaint alleges, the victim's band was taking part in an alternative music and extreme sports festival that tours North America in the spring and summer. At that time, according to the victim, the victim was a friend of some members of Rock Band A, also from Chicago, that was participating in the same tour. During a visit to Rock Band A's tour bus one night, the victim had a disagreement with an employee of Rock Band A, who the victim later learned was associated with an FSU member in Chicago

Later that year, in Boston, the victim's band did a gig, and six members of FSU allegedly attacked a member of the band, according to the FBI: "On Oct. 7, 2005, the victim's band was in the Boston area and, as the victim was walking to the tour bus before the show, six unknown men approached the victim, pushed the victim to the ground, and repeatedly kicked and punched the victim, while a security guard simply watched. The victim and an individual who came to the victim's aid were both injured and the victim's band did not perform that night, fearing further attack, the charges allege."

A member of the victim's band was attacked again in Orlando later that same year, and afterward allegedly received a phone call from James. According to the FBI's complaint, "James asked how the victim's trip to Florida was going when the victim had never told James that the victim would be traveling in Florida. After the victim told James that the victim would not be paying the $5,000, James allegedly ended the call sarcastically, which the victim understood to mean that further attacks would ensue. As a result of this fear, in early December, the victim contacted the FBI in Chicago and agreed to cooperate and record additional phone calls, according to the complaint."

Elgin is no small-time thug. In fact, he has a pretty impressive resume, according to his Wiki. He was featured on National Georgraphic, was written about in Rolling Stone, and moved out to LA to learn film making. He attended the exclusive Sundance Screenwriters Lab, a fellowship program that has had as fellows Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Alison Anders (Mi Vida Loca) and Darren Aronofsky.

Pete Wentz in "GOODNIGHT MOON" Trailer

He made inroads, and hooked up with Fallout Boy's Pete Wentz to make a short entitled Goodnight Moon -- watch the trailer above. Goodnight Moon was a semi-autobiographical screenplay written by James.

The punkers at Punknews.com really dug Elgin Nathan James' band, Righteous Jams, shown above. But a few commenters said that FSU were a bunch of assholes: FUCK FSU, fucking dumbass losers. I had a friend get his ass kicked by 5 guys who said they were FSU . 1 GUY AGAINST 5!!! So i found out who they were and beat their asses 1 at a time . They are only strong in numbers and dumb as bricks by themselves. Oh and also , any FSU guys on here that want to go 1 on 1 go fuck yourself Im too old.

According to Absolutepunk.net Elgin had started a band with New Found Glory's Chad Gilbert, which is to be released this year. No word on whether that will happen now.

He's being arraigned today in LA. We'll let you know more as we learn details.

But the big question, of course, is 'WHO IS ROCK BAND A'. A little bit of Internet research uncovers this tidbit: Fallout Boy was playing in Lowell, Mass. on October 8, 2005, and had a two day break after their show in Rochester, NY on October 5. Fallout Boy is from Chicago. But then, so are a lot of other mediocre punk bands.

UPDATE: An astute commenter just answered that question: The Nintendo Fusion Tour toured the northeast during that time. The tour featured Fallout Boy (Chicago), Panic at the Disco (Las Vegas), Motion City Soundtrack (Minneapolis), Boys Night Out (Ontario, Canada), The Starting Line (Churchville, PA). Whether this has anything to do with anything, however, is purely speculative. Nor do we know the name of the victim's band, also from Chicago.

UPDATE: Chicago Tribune is reporting that the victim was in punk band Mest. (Thanks, commenter @michael)

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