This article was last modified on March 30, 2015.

Milwaukee’s Black Mafia: Michael Lock

Michael Lock’s father, a garbage hauler and tannery worker, was hooked on drugs and in prison when his son gave his first sermon in 1979 at only 8 years old. It was at the Unity Gospel House of Prayer, a congregation started by his grandfather Elbridge Lock, who rose from uneducated, rural Arkansas roots. On May 9, 1987, when Lock was 16, his father died of an overdose at age 34. The toxicology report found a mixture of cocaine and methadone in his system.

Lock went to work soon after his father’s death. He became the first black employee at Bagley’s Men’s Wear, where his grandfather shopped. At first he worked as a security guard. But Lock began chatting about clothes with customers waiting for a salesman. His initiative caught the owner’s attention. Lock soon was learning the clothing business – how to chalk suit pants, suggest colors and close a sale.

At age 17, he got his own place and married his girlfriend – four months before graduating from Madison high School in 1989. At school, Lock sang in the choir and was elected to the homecoming court. The wedding was in the family church with his grandfather presiding. The marriage wouldn’t last. A son was born nine months later. Michael Jr. would be the first of five children – by four different women. Two others also are named after him, a daughter, Michael Sedan, and another son, Sir Michael.

After graduating from high school, Lock took cosmetology classes and started to deal drugs. He didn’t get a degree, but by 1994 he had a four-chair barbershop, the Fresh Look, on North Teutonia Avenue. He built a clientele of police officers and churchgoers.

Louis Jackson happened to be at Fresh Look the day a guy barged in and accused Lock of having sex with his girlfriend. The two men started fighting. Jackson jumped in to help Lock. They beat the guy unconscious, cementing their friendship. Jackson had learned the drug trade working for Jerry Walker, boss of the ruthless 2-7 gang that used shootings, beatings and intimidation to control the crack cocaine trade on Milwaukee’s north side. By the mid-1990s, Walker was locked up for life. Jackson and Lock went fishing together, and Jackson attended Lock’s church.

He arranged meetings on his turf with dealers. Once there, Lock’s men would strip them of their drugs and cash. Few drug dealers would even attempt such bold, risky work. But Lock was confident he could get away with it. And it meant a much bigger profit.

Lock began to branch out into other areas. He formed his own home-repair business and started buying up houses. He funneled thousands in cash from his drug and robbery operations through those businesses.

If that weren’t enough, Lock’s prostitution operation was stretching across the Midwest. The prostitutes lived with Lock and his girlfriend, Shalanda Mason, his top earner who went by the nickname “Pleasure.” Lock reportedly dispatched his girls to strip clubs in Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana and Minnesota. Lock’s girls were under orders to earn at least $10,000 each trip by selling sex at nearby hotels. In addition to being his most prolific prostitute, Shalanda was a business-savvy leader in Lock’s machine, according to prosecution filings and testimony. One client alone paid her $150,000 for sex over a five-year period, records show.

Eugene “Mickey” Chaney vanished on April 7, 2000. His family was certain he was murdered. City police commanders figured Chaney was dead – but they had no body. They did have one key piece of evidence. Chaney was using his daughter’s cell phone – and was hiding that fact from his probation agent. He forgot the phone at his house when he left with the $100,000. The last number dialed was Lock’s.

A few days after Chaney disappeared, a county drug task force happened to be sifting through Lock’s trash at the home on W. Fiebrantz Ave. where both murdered drug dealers were buried. Authorities were looking for evidence of drug dealing and money laundering.

Eleven days after Chaney disappeared, Milwaukee homicide Detective Cameo Barbian-Gayan interviewed Lock. He told the detective his number was on Chaney’s phone because he was going to build Chaney a fence. He said he had no idea where Chaney was. Barbian-Gayan didn’t know that the drug task force was already investigating Lock. And neither the police nor the Sheriff’s Department knew that the FBI had recently recorded wiretapped conversations that may have linked Lock to Chaney’s murder.

The FBI had recorded a call of someone believed to be inside Lock’s organization saying that Chaney was “looking at the sky,” slang for dead. The recorded voice may have been Lock himself. Other informants told federal probation agents that Chaney had been kidnapped, bound in duct tape and killed after a drug deal gone bad, according to probation records. Shortly before he was murdered, Chaney was being watched by local U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

One night in October 2000, officer Dean Newport and his partner spotted Lock on N. 51st Blvd. and pulled him over for an unpaid citation. Lock told Newport he was coming from church. He mentioned that his brother and cousin were Milwaukee police officers. Newport and his partner found a loaded 10 mm Glock handgun under the front seat and arrested Lock. They took the case to assistant district attorney John Chisholm, head of the gun unit. Chisholm told them that to convict under Wisconsin law, he had to prove Lock knew the gun was there, with a glance or other gesture. Fingerprints also could prove it. The cops didn’t have any of that.

In early 2001, Shalonda Lock invited high school senior Amy Watkins to join her on a trip to dance at an exotic dance club and to perform acts of prostitution. Watkins agreed. At MichaelLock and Shalonda Lock’s suggestion, Ms. Watkins left her child at the home of Shalonda Lock’s mother. That home was in the City of Milwaukee. Michael Lock drove Watkins and Shalonda Lock from Milwaukee to an exotic dance club in Waterloo, Iowa. Michael Lock and Shalonda Lock also rented two hotel rooms. Watkins had never before engaged in exotic dance or prostitution. Michael Lock and Shalonda Lock coached Watkins as to how to find prostitution customers and how much to charge for performing sex acts. Shalonda Lock provided Watkins with a dance costume and condoms. Watkins did take a customer from the dance club to the hotel room and performed a sex act with the customer for money.

After the above trip, Watkins began living with Michael Lock and Shalonda Lock at their home at 4720 N. 53rd Street, Milwaukee. At Michael Lock and Shalonda Lock’s direction and guidance, Watkins then began regularly traveling from Milwaukee to various exotic dance venues, including Show Time in Wausau, the Tower Lounge in Holdrege, Nebraska, and the 4 Mile Club in Fountain City, Wisconsin, for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

Watkins estimates she performed approximately 150 acts of prostitution while she worked for Michael Lock and earned approximately $25,000-$30,000. Watkins turned over approximately eighty percent of her prostitution earnings to Shalonda Lock. Shalonda Lock, in turn, provided the prostitution proceeds to Michael Lock, and often sent the proceeds via Western Union. In exchange, Michael Lock and Shalonda Lock provided for Watkins’ basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing.

Lock got another break in mid-2001 when the county drug unit abruptly closed its two-year investigation into his operations without a single charge filed. The task force believed Lock ran a wholesale cocaine trafficking business, an extensive prostitution ring and a money-laundering operation. Informants, surveillance and financial records backed it up. They had launched a secret John Doe inquiry, reserved for the biggest cases. They were getting close. Then Detective Daniel Ornelas was ordered off narcotics, which forced him to drop the Lock case.

Renee Sikes worked as a prostitute for Michael Lock for approximately 8-10 months during late 2001 into early 2002. She identified Lock as her “pimp.” During this time, Sikes lived with Michael Lock and Shalonda Lock at 4720 North 53rd Street, Milwaukee. Sikes regularly traveled with Shalonda Lock, Migdalia Smith, and Amy Watkins from Milwaukee to exotic dance locations in the Midwest. Sikes stage name was “Mustang.” During these trips, Sikes and the other women regularly performed acts of prostitution. These women included Shalonda Lock (stage name “Pleasure”), Smith (stage name “Cha Cha”) and Amy Watkins (stage name “Chic”). Shalonda Lock brought an
economy size box of condoms on these trips for Sikes and the other women to use during acts of prostitution. Shalonda Lock set the prices the women were to charge for specific acts of prostitution. On some occasions, Sikes jointly participated in acts of prostitution involving a customer and another prostitute simultaneously.

On February 10, 2002 at the Tower Lounge, Holdrege, Nebraska, Shalonda Lock offered to engage in sexual intercourse in exchange for money with an undercover police officer. Renee Sikes posted bail for Shalonda Lock’s release. Police seized, from Shalonda Lock’s hotel room, a 2002 calendar that also included January 2003. The calendar shows Shalonda Lock’s scheduling prostitutes at various exotic dance venues throughout the year. Also seized were Western Union money orders totaling approximately $6,000. The money orders all show “Shalonda Mason” as the remitter and are made payable to “Michael Lock”.

Western Union records show that on March 25, 2002, Migdalia Williams wired $2,000 from Holdrege, NE to Michael Lock in Milwaukee. Western Union records show that on April 11, 2002, Renee Sikes wired $1,061 from
Holdrege, NE to Michael Lock in Milwaukee.

In 2002, Lock heard that Leoporium “Leo” Ford was flush with cocaine and money. He ordered surveillance on Ford, then arranged through a middleman to buy cocaine from him. Normally wary of new people, Ford had a rule never to go into a house without the middleman who set up the deal. Ford had his cousin with him and figured he was safe with a second person. As Ford stepped into Lock’s house on 53rd St., one of Lock’s men pointed a TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol in Ford’s face. “You know what time it is?” the man said. Ford handed over a pound of cocaine. Lock’s crew told him to call for more drugs and money. Ford balked. They tied him up with wire hangers and duct tape and blindfolded him, savagely kicking and punching him. They slashed his clothes. Ford smelled chicken grease from another room. His captors began dripping scalding grease on him in a slow torture. “You know who we are?” one of Lock’s men said. “We are the Body Snatchers. This is what we do.” Ford’s cousin, meanwhile, was getting beaten up in the basement. Ford ordered one of his guys to get a few thousand dollars more and made it out of Lock’s house alive – probably because one of Lock’s men knew Ford’s cousin.

Undercover agents finally got to Lock and set up a drug buy. They arrested him and his uncle with 9 ounces of cocaine in May 2002 – at least eight years after Lock started dealing drugs. Lock and his uncle, Carl “Uncle Ed” Davis, pulled into the McDonald’s just before the dinner rush. They were in a Dodge Ram pickup owned by the Lock family church, Unity Gospel House of Prayer. Lock and Davis had 9 ounces of cocaine they had stolen from another dealer. When they handed the informant the coke, federal agents swooped in and arrested them. During the interrogation, police Detective Dave Baker and FBI agent Matt Gibson almost immediately offered Lock a deal: If he gave them enough other dealers, he could avoid a long prison term. Baker said he didn’t know at that time Lock was a major dealer. They dropped a criminal count and at least 10 possible years in prison after Lock agreed to give investigators information about other dealers.

The first dealer he handed over to authorities was Armando Rivera, a leader in the Maniac Latin Disciples gang. He, too, was caught with 9 ounces of cocaine. Rivera, like Lock, would become an informant. But Rivera got 7 1/2 years in prison, much more than Lock. Authorities cited his involvement in the murderous gang. Lock then delivered Michael Navedo, one rank below Rivera in the gang. Navedo was nabbed with about 3 1/2 ounces of cocaine. He got six years.

On Sept. 2, 2003, during a closed sentencing hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys discussed Lock’s and Davis’ cooperation. “I am sorry to the community,” Lock told Circuit Judge Michael Brennan, according to transcripts later unsealed. “My ways of amending was dealing with these young men that I was a confidential informant on, and I just want you to take into consideration that I did put my life on the line.” The prosecutor said Lock and Davis earned the light sentence he was recommending. “Mr. Lock and Mr. Davis have served to protect the public themselves through this cooperation,” Prosecutor Mark Sanders said. The judge commended Lock and Davis for “a very high level of cooperation.” Without it, Brennan said, he would have hit them with a lengthy sentence. Instead, he gave Lock 21 months in prison. Davis got 13 months.

He served less than a year in a traditional prison and the rest at a minimum-security correctional facility in Milwaukee. He was out on work release during the day and spent his nights at the Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center. Lock got a job at Andrea Nembhard’s real estate company on W. Silver Spring Drive. Nembhard knew Lock from an earlier real estate deal. She had arranged for him to buy the house at 4900 W. Fiebrantz Ave., where Lock’s crew later killed at least two drug dealers and buried them in the backyard. Nembhard thought Lock was trustworthy because he and his grandfather were pastors. She wanted him to do clerical work and cleaning. Prison officials told Nembhard that Lock couldn’t have personal visits or phone calls and couldn’t handle money. That was fine with Nembhard. She didn’t have grand plans for him. Lock’s main jobs were to answer the phone, cut the grass and keep the place tidy. But she left Lock alone in the office a lot. And Lock took advantage of that time to do all the things he wasn’t supposed to do.

Once he got out of prison in mid-2005, he stepped it up. First, he landed a state loan originator’s license. Lock knew the state prohibited anyone convicted of a “crime of dishonesty” from holding such a license. But drug dealing didn’t count in the eyes of the state. Lock opened World Financial Mortgage on the North Shore. He and his girlfriend, Shalanda Mason, moved into a home in nearby Mequon. Mason worked as a prostitute for Lock for years, prosecutors say. Jerhonda McCray, already in the mortgage business, became Lock’s partner. He also started sleeping with her. Lock’s team started by hunting for naïve buyers with good credit scores. He boosted their financial profiles by hiring a counterfeiter to make phony bank records and wage statements. Then they looked for houses, the more broken down the better. It was easier to use a home in inner-city Milwaukee because it wasn’t worth much and Lock’s crew could write up inflated appraisals. McCray applied for loans from out-of-town banks that wouldn’t question the appraisal. At the closings, Lock took a big cut of the mortgage money for himself.

In the summer of 2005, Lock went with friends to Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square. Officer Dean Newport happened to be there that Thursday night. Newport had tracked Lock for years but wrote him off after he was busted with cocaine by federal agents. He couldn’t believe Lock was free. “How the hell did he get out?” Newport wondered.
At the park, Newport took photos of Lock talking on his cell phone. It was a violation for a convicted drug dealer to have a phone. Lock went back on Newport’s list of suspects to watch.

Then Lock got cocky and made his biggest professional mistake. He decided to sell the house on Fiebrantz, where two bodies were buried under pit bull kennels in the backyard. He sold the property despite a warning from one of his top lieutenants, Donald “Killer Coop” Cooper, that he should never sell the house. But Lock saw quick profit.

Stacie Happel, who worked on mortgage deals in Lock’s Bayside office, moved into her newly purchased three-bedroom Milwaukee home in August 2005 with a list of projects. First order of business: Get rid of those two unsightly concrete slabs in the backyard. So she put her boyfriend to work. After smashing through 14 inches of concrete, he came across a blue tarp and underneath that, bones. The previous owner of the W. Fiebrantz Ave. home had placed pit bull kennels on those slabs, but these were no dog bones. Detectives called to the scene found a partially decomposed body bound in duct tape and kitchen wrap, the hands and feet tied with rope. They also found something puzzling in the grave: a tattered camisole. DNA tests would reveal the corpse was an Illinois drug dealer who had disappeared six years earlier. He was last seen on his way to make a big drug score with the owner of the house on Fiebrantz, Michael Lock. Under the next slab, detectives found another dead drug dealer, who also had done business with the owner of that house.

Louis Jackson was behind bars on a domestic violence conviction, so he was brought to a south side hotel meeting in jail clothes. Police wrapped a trench coat over Jackson to hide his orange jumpsuit from hotel guests as he walked through the corridors. Jackson sat across from Officer Dean Newport, who had been investigating Lock on and off for years. Prosecutor John Chisholm also was at the table. Five years earlier, he had refused to charge Lock after Newport found a loaded Glock in the drug dealer’s car. Chisholm told Newport there wasn’t enough evidence and urged Newport to bring him a better case. Here was his chance. They promised Jackson he would spend no time in prison. They also confirmed for Jackson that Lock had tried to rat him out to federal agents. Jackson was a key part of Lock’s operation. He began to lay out how Lock’s group, known as the Body Snatchers, did business. Then he dropped a bombshell. Jackson told investigators that Lock had police on his payroll.

Newport and Detective Randy Olson set up inside the federal courthouse, converting cramped rooms and closets into the team’s nerve center. Soon, they had assembled binders on everyone in Lock’s world. Walls filled with diagrams of Lock’s business and criminal operations. Joining police were district attorney’s investigators, prosecutors and FBI agents. The 10-member group became known as the Michael Lock Task Force. The investigation into potential police corruption had to be handled separately, and sensitively. A specialized unit within the FBI took that part of the case.

In early 2006, Lock married his longtime girlfriend, Shalanda Mason, a woman he had cheated on and pimped out for years. They moved into a ranch-style home with a sprawling yard on a quiet street in Mequon. He returned to his grandfather’s church, took over the deacon board and gained some control over the church’s finances. He began preaching again, delivering sermons about God’s forgiveness just as he had almost 30 years earlier.

Jackson met with Newport and the others on secluded trails at Hawthorn Glen Nature Center on the city’s west side. They nicknamed it “godfather park,” a reference to Lock’s crime-boss status. They considered having Jackson buy dope from Lock every week. But that was too expensive. They couldn’t set up anything after 6 p.m. Lock was on an electronic bracelet and had to be in the house by then. His probation agent didn’t know about the case – and investigators wanted to keep it that way.

Investigators weren’t just tracking Lock. They needed to understand everyone in his world, more than 120 people.
Jackson pointed Newport and the others to one in particular: Lock’s brother-in-law, Edward “Big Ed” Hankins. He told them Hankins and Lock had a falling out. He might be ready to flip. Authorities charged Hankins with an unrelated drug charge and used it as leverage to get him to talk about Lock. Hankins admitted he worked for Lock. He even told them he saw a body in a closet. But he wouldn’t say more. And he surely wouldn’t testify against his boss.

The police turned over a phone they found buried under the concrete slabs to the FBI. Technicians in Quantico hooked up the phone’s motherboard to a monitor. Thousands of numbers appeared, including one from a woman in Kenosha County. She thought the phone might have belonged to someone she worked with at a mall in 1999 – Juan Terrazas. Investigators went to Terrazas’ last known address in Waukegan. Much to their surprise, he was alive. Terrazas said his phone disappeared in 1999, along with his former roommate and best friend, Felipe “Mondo” Melendez-Rivas. Mondo had used Terrazas’ car. The phone was inside. The car turned up at Chicago Midway Airport. Terrazas figured his friend had returned to his native Mexico because of trouble in a drug deal.

At 6am on July 20, 2007, the team arrested Lock, his enforcer, Donald “Killer Coop” Cooper, his uncle, Carl “Uncle Ed” Davis and Hankins. They also took down nine suspects in Lock’s mortgage fraud network. They seized dozens of boxes of evidence and computers from Lock’s house and his offices on the North Shore and elsewhere. District attorney’s investigators and FBI agents dug through the seized records. There was plenty there for mortgage fraud charges. They found Lock had financially ruined his victims while defrauding banks of more than $2 million in a matter of months. At Lock’s house on N. 15th St. they found posters of film gangsters Robert DeNiro in “Goodfellas,” Al Pacino in “Scarface,” and real-life mobster John Gotti – but there was no evidence implicating Lock in any violence.

“I wasn’t made to do manual labor. I was made to think. That’s what I did, and it paid off,” Lock said from jail. “I made enough money to where I would be a fool to do what they said I did.”

Also try another article under Organized Crime
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

One Response to “Milwaukee’s Black Mafia: Michael Lock”

  1. Drew Hunkins Says:

    Very interesting Gavin. Thanks for posting this.

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