Standing before a judge, seeking his release on bail, the alleged leader of Macon’s Money Over Everything street gang said he was a changed man.
“I turned my life over to Christ a month after I got incarcerated,” Sidney Raymond Sapp said during a Thursday hearing in Bibb County Superior Court.
Sapp, 24, is charged with rape, child molestation, statutory rape, pimping for a person under 18, trafficking of people for sexual servitude, and two counts of violating the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
He was released from jail last year after serving time for voluntary manslaughter stemming from a Jones County case. He remains on probation.
Sapp’s lawyer, Andre Crawford, said his client denies any wrongdoing and asked the judge to set a bond. Sapp has been held at the Bibb County jail since his arrest May 29.
The judge denied his request.
Sapp and Navon Christine Johnson, 22, are charged with prostituting a then-15-year-old girl against her will between Oct. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012.
Speaking at Thursday’s hearing, prosecutor DeShala Dixon said Sapp sometimes collected the money earned during the sexual encounters. At times, other gang members took money paid by the various men who had sex with the girl.
At one point, the MOE gang comprised 40 to 50 members and has since disbanded, Dixon said.
Sapp has admitted to being the group’s leader, she said.
Since last spring, 15 alleged members have been jailed in connection with assorted crimes in Bibb and Monroe counties, ranging from drug offenses to murder.
Marcus Roberts, Sidney Sapp’s uncle, said his nephew hasn’t been a part of the gang since 2012.
People who “claim MOE” are responsible for much of the crime attributed to the gang -- not Sapp, Roberts maintained.
“This is following him and he can’t get away from it,” he said.
Sapp’s mother, two of his sisters and another woman are also charged in the alleged prostitution ring.
Roberts said Sapp, his sisters and his mother -- Roberts’ sister -- weren’t part of the alleged prostitution ring.
He alleges the ring was led by another man.
Crawford, Sapp’s lawyer, said Sapp was working in landscaping when he was arrested. Before that, he worked at Aerospace Dynamics. He has four children.
Gary Wilson said Sapp worked for his landscaping business about five days before his arrest. They first met about a year ago though Awakening Fires, a home-based apostolic church that also operates an outreach center in east Macon.
Sapp started attending one of the group’s churches in Macon’s Bloomfield neighborhood and then brought his family, Wilson said.
Wilson described Sapp as a “hard worker” and as a man who has “preached” and tried to minister to people he knew in the community.
“The guy that I’ve been reading about in the paper and the guy that was picked up, he’s not the Sid that I knew,” Wilson said.
He said the same of Sapp’s mother, 44-year-old Jerryetta Sapp, and his two sisters who have been charged.
“This family was willing to jump all in because they believed that they could have a different life. They believed they could have a transformed life through the Gospel,” Wilson said.
He admited he doesn’t know much about the family’s past, but he said Sapp had expressed remorse about his gang activities before he started attending Awakening Fires.
Recently, he felt a “calling” to be a minister, Wilson said.
When Sapp’s mother turned herself in, church services pretty much stopped. She had written a list of goals for her life. The church had been meeting at her house, Wilson said.
“Our home church has been arrested,” he said. “All my congregation is in jail.”
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.