Gang soldier fingers bondsman as 'Beat Down Posse' ringleader

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 10, 2012 - 8:07 PM

Troy Neuberger said he plotted murder and arson at the bidding of Joseph Robert "Big Joe" Gustafson.

A top member of the "Beat Down Posse" testified Tuesday that he committed crimes ranging from torching a north Minneapolis home to plotting to kill a "hanger-on" suspected of being a police informant, all for the benefit of the north Minneapolis gang.

Troy Neuberger, 40, indicted on multiple felony counts last year relating to his activities in the gang, told a Hennepin County jury that his motivation to confess to the crimes while testifying against alleged ringleader Joseph Robert "Big Joe" Gustafson was simple:

"I'm trying to get a deal," he told defense attorney Barry Voss during cross-examination Tuesday. "I'm out on a limb."

Neuberger, who could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of counts that include racketeering, attempted murder and arson, said he has not been offered any sort of deal from Hennepin County prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against Gustafson, 56, a former Hell's Angel. He's hoping, he said, one will come after the fact.

Gustafson faces six charges

Gustafson has pleaded not guilty to six felony counts, including arson and attempted murder. Prosecutors allege he was the "CEO" of the gang, who issued orders while running the gang under the front of his business, Gustafson Bail Bonds. His son, Joseph Duane "Little Joe" Gustafson Jr., 37, will stand trial on charges of racketeering and similar crimes in March.

Gustafson Sr.'s attorney contends that others committed each of the crimes his client is charged with and that each witness testifying against him is only looking for a break from potentially serious prison time.

Neuberger, in the Hennepin County jail the past 15 months, appeared on the stand in an orange jumpsuit and spoke haltingly. His memory appeared clear when he told prosecutors how he became involved with the group through his friendship with Gustafson Jr. He testified how he was ordered in April 2006 by Big Joe Gustafson to burn down one of the family's properties at 3117 Girard Av. N. so they could reap the insurance proceeds. He said he was told to wait until Gustafson Sr. and another homeowner were out of town before he checked to make sure no vagrants were sleeping in the house, then poured gas and oil in the vents and lit it on fire.

"Did it burn?" Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Hans Larson asked.

"To the ground," Neuberger replied.

He spoke of an assault on a drug dealer that was a "bloodbath" and testified that Gustafson Sr. ordered him to kill a gang acquaintance they suspected was an informant. Neuberger said he was given a .38-caliber pistol inside a sandwich bag and ordered to kill the man. He decided not to at the last minute because he was paranoid about a camera on a laptop computer at the bail bond business where the two met. It wasn't the only reason, Neuberger testified.

"I ain't a killer," he said.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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