Youth development coach Martin Murff, who worked with kids to end Chicago violence at UCAN, now faces charges as a violent gang leader – CBS Chicago


CHICAGO (CBS) – Martin Murff spent years working with children to end violence in Chicago, and he was thought to be part of the solution.

But as CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday night, federal prosecutors in Michigan are now saying he’s a huge part of the problem – and he’s actually the leader of a gang of violent street.

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In 2019, Martin, or Marty, Murff received a presidential coin from UCAN – the renowned social service agency that helps children and families at risk. On June 3, he was indicted in a federal racketeering indictment in Detroit with being the prince of the violent street gang Vice Lords.

Prosecutors said Murff had been one of Chicago’s and nation’s top gang leaders for years.

“If they have to kill someone, they will,” said Jim Dier, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Detroit. “If they have to shoot them, if they have to physically assault them, if they have to stab them, then they will.”

It’s a life prosecutors said Murff was leading even before he started working for UCAN. He joined UCAN in 2016 as a youth development coach to help end street and gang violence in and around the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago.

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In an article in his honor, Murff was quoted as calling his own work a redeemer. Murff, who served jail time for murder, reportedly said, “I can go to bed with a smile like, I think I saved a life today.”

But federal prosecutors charged Murff and a total of 40 accused of “promoting and improving the (gang) business and its members,” and specifically charged Murff with trafficking heroin and fentanyl as recently as in February.

“This is a huge concern,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said. “It’s putting the fox to guard the henhouse.”

UCAN obtains tens of millions of dollars in government grants and contracts to run counseling, fostering and housing programs for at-risk children. Murff recently worked as a supervisor in UCAN’s Violence Prevention and Intervention Program.

In a statement, UCAN spokesperson Derrick Baker said: “We have not seen any evidence of any illegal activity carried out by or involving Marty.”

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Baker also said Murff was suspended without pay by the West Side agency. A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in Detroit said Murff remains in federal custody and will be taken to Michigan by the US Marshals in the future.


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