Lower my bail so I can get out of jail, Joseph "Little Joe" Gustafson Jr. pleaded. My wife has a chronic illness, our three boys have needs and my north Minneapolis home was ravaged by the May tornado.

But there was another side to the alleged Beat Down Posse leader that Hennepin District Judge Kerry Meyer considered Tuesday. Gustafson, 36, is the subject of a protective order filed by his wife. Not to mention a police report that indicates he wants his former right-hand man, and now co-defendant, dead.

"Mr. Gustafson, I know you're frustrated by the amount of time this has taken, but what I have to examine is the likelihood that you'll reappear in court and the public safety issue," Meyer said. " ... The new charges are extremely serious."

So serious that bail will remain at $750,000 for Gustafson, who is charged with 14 felonies, alleging crimes dating back to 2005 that included extortion, assault, robbery, kidnapping, and weapons and drug trafficking. He is the alleged ringleader of a brutal gang called Beat Down Posse.

Gustafson's father, Joseph Robert "Big Joe" Gustafson Sr., 55, was arrested earlier this month following seven felony charges, including racketeering, attempted first-degree murder and arson. Authorities say Gustafson Sr. was the founder and "top dog" of the gang.

Charges against father, son and Troy Neuberger, 38, indicate the group terrorized north Minneapolis drug dealers and even their own gang members who stepped out of line. Neuberger has since agreed to questioning by police.

Attorney Jill Brisbois, representing the younger Gustafson after his longtime attorney, Joseph Kaminsky, stepped down, asked Meyer to reduce his bail to $110,000. She said Gustafson Jr.'s wife is ill with Huntington's disease and he needs to help care for their sons. The May 22 tornado was "extremely destructive" to his home, she said.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney William Richardson strongly opposed the move, saying, "The case for stronger bail is higher than in the past."

Richardson said Gustafson Jr.'s wife has a no-contact order against him and that he allegedly contacted co-defendants and witnesses. He presented a police report in which Neuberger alleged that he heard through someone that Gustafson Jr. "wished for Mr. Neuberger to be killed."

Gustafson Jr. often shook his head and whispered into his attorney's ear while Richardson spoke. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 26.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921