Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting of Father of Four in the Early Morning Hours of Father’s Day 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 7, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting of Father of Four in the Early Morning Hours of Father’s Day 2018

Victim Accused by Defendant of Slashing His Tires Months Earlier;
The Two Argued over a Parking Spot Months Before the Alleged Slashing

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Bushwick man has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a 33-year-old father of four with whom he had been in a months-long dispute stemming from an argument over a parking spot and a subsequent incident in which someone allegedly slashed the defendant’s tires.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Sadly, a dispute over a parking spot simmered for months and culminated in the death of a father of four in the early morning hours of what was supposed to be a happy Father’s Day. This defendant senselessly escalated a minor dispute, taking the life of a beloved father who had much to live for, and forfeited his own freedom as a consequence of his actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as David Hall, 47, of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The defendant was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to 20 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree murder on December 12, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 17, 2018, at approximately 12:15 a.m., the defendant confronted William Fernandez, 33, on a street in Bushwick and accused him of slashing the defendant’s tires. The victim walked away from the confrontation, but the defendant continued to pursue him, following him for several blocks.

The defendant pulled out a gun and pointed it at the victim at the corner of Stanwix Street and Melrose Street. The victim then put his hands in the air and ran, but the defendant opened fire seven times, striking the victim once in the back and damaging his heart and lung.

The victim was taken to Wyckoff Hospital, where he died.

Surveillance footage captured the defendant confronting and shooting the victim. Multiple witnesses identified the defendant as the shooter.

Paralegal Sarah Quashie, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Analyst Alexandra Aber and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jane Kim, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Andrea Orlando, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Former Boyfriend Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder in Execution Death of Correction Officer Who He Tracked and Ambushed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

 

Former Boyfriend Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder in Execution Death of Correction Officer Who He Tracked and Ambushed

Victim Was Shot Five Times as She Sat in Her Car

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for the murder of a New York City Correction Officer who was ambushed and shot five times as she sat in her car in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, about to leave for work.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s calculated, cold-blooded murder cut short Officer Alastasia Bryan’s promising life and robbed her family and friends of a beloved daughter, sister, companion, colleague and friend. With today’s substantial prison sentence, this defendant will no longer be a threat to anyone else in our community.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Keon Richmond, 37, of Kensington, Brooklyn. He was sentenced in absentia today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 40 years to life in prison. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on October 21, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on December 4, 2016, at approximately 9:15 p.m., the victim, Alastasia Bryan, 25, was sitting in her car at the corner of Avenue L and East 73rd Street, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. She was preparing to drive to Rikers Island, where she worked as a Correction Officer, when the defendant shot her five times in the chest, hand and both arms.

The defendant, according to the evidence, was able to track the victim’s movements using a GPS tracking device registered with his name and cell phone number that he placed on her car three days before the shooting.

After shooting Officer Bryan, according to the evidence, the defendant fled the scene in a Hyundai Elantra, which had license plates registered to his girlfriend, Shirley Mejia, 26. Two days after the murder, Mejia paid to have the car stored at a mechanic’s shop in New Jersey and Richmond removed the license plates. Cell site records, surveillance video and other electronic data placed the defendant at the scene of the homicide at the time of the murder and captured his flight to New Jersey after the shooting.

Mejia pleaded guilty to first-degree hindering prosecution and will be sentenced on March 25, 2020.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Valery Paulblanc of the 63rd Precinct Detective Squad and retired Detective Patrick Henn of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad.

Paralegal Meghan Brancato, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Analysts Daniel Figlin and Alexandra Aber, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The District Attorney thanked Senior Assistant District Attorneys Robert Kaftal, Grace Hogan and Melody Huang, of the Law Enforcement Assistance Unit; Junior Clinical Supervisor Jamie Cohen of the Victims Services Unit and Mark Feldman, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Special Investigations, for their assistance on the case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Olatokunbo Olaniyan, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Amanda Hersh, of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

 

34 Alleged Members of Two Rival Street Gangs Variously Charged in 122-Count Indictment That Includes Charges Relating to 13 Shootings in Brooklyn North; 16 Firearms Recovered

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

 

34 Alleged Members of Two Rival Street Gangs Variously Charged in
122-Count Indictment That Includes Charges Relating to 13 Shootings in Brooklyn North; 16 Firearms Recovered

Some Defendants Allegedly Targeted and Exploited Young Women to Act as “Holsters” to
Carry and Transport Weapons for Gang Members

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced that 34 alleged members of two Brownsville-based rival street gangs known as WOOO (We On Our Own) and CHOO are variously charged in a 122-count indictment with attempted murder, conspiracy, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and related charges in connection with nine attempted murder shootings and four reckless endangerment shootings.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This indictment reflects the commitment of my office and the NYPD to continue to work together to target those individuals responsible for senseless shootings that endanger innocent people. We allege that these gang members’ primary activity is to track rivals and to shoot at each other on sight on the streets of Brooklyn. This is outrageous and will not be tolerated. I am confident that this takedown, which is focused on drivers of violent crime, will have a measurable impact on public safety by targeting the offenders who commit the violence in our communities.”

Commissioner Shea said, “When violent rivalries by street gangs inflict harm in our city’s neighborhoods, we answer with precision policing, arrests and solid prosecutions. Our NYPD detectives’ work in this case, together with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, will undoubtedly keep residents of Northern Brooklyn safer.”

The District Attorney said that most of the defendants were arraigned last week before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendants are variously charged with first-, second-, third- and fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first- and second-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, first- and second-degree rape, and related charges. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison on the top conspiracy charge. (See defendant addendum).

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants are members or associates of two rival street gangs known as WOOO (We On Our Own) and CHOO, each of which allegedly consists of several small loosely affiliated gangs with little or no real hierarchy. Members of WOOO and CHOO are sworn enemies and bitter rivals of each other. It is alleged that they operated within the confines of the 73rd Precinct, but expanded their violence into neighboring precincts, including the 67th Precinct.

The NYPD’s Brooklyn North Gang Squad and the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau conducted a long-term investigation into violence perpetrated between these two rival criminal organizations from February 1, 2018 through the date of this indictment.

It is alleged that between those dates, WOOO and CHOO members engaged in a type of war where gang members would search or hunt for rival members in rival territories and then shoot them on sight. Shootings were conducted by both sides in a game of one-upmanship, to embarrass rival gang members and to contest geographic dominance over territories in which the rivals resided.

It is also alleged that the WOOO gang specifically targeted and exploited younger females to carry guns for them, i.e., act as “holsters.” It is alleged that the teenage girls would carry the guns, while the gang members walked nearby and directed the girls to various locations providing the weapons as needed for the purposes of shooting rival gang members. The girls were allegedly expected to face any gun charges if arrested, in the hopes they would receive a lesser sentence due to their age and gender. Furthermore, Tyquan Ellison, 20, and Jayquan Wise, 19, are charged with first- and second-degree rape for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Ellison is charged with sex trafficking in order to enhance his status within the gang by allegedly forcing the 14-year-old girl to have sex with Wise.

Among the incidents charged in the indictment are nine counts of attempted murder related to shootings in which individuals, including innocent bystanders, were struck and four counts of reckless endangerment related to four additional shootings, including:

  • On July 13, 2018, members of the WOOO gang went to Brooklyn Supreme Court at 320 Jay Street for the court appearance of fellow WOOO member Jayquan Wise, aka, JayDee. Following the court appearance, the defendants went to the nearby Fulton Mall area, where they engaged in a verbal and physical dispute with rival gang members.  During the altercation, it is alleged, defendant Equan Ware pulled out a firearm and shot at opposing gang members, striking a rival gang member as well as two innocent bystanders.
  • On September 17, 2018, at approximately 12:49 a.m., CHOO member Carlton Darby allegedly walked up to a building at 250 Lott Avenue and fired a gun multiple times. One of the bullets went through a window into an apartment where two young children were sleeping. No one was injured.
  • On October 29, 2018, at approximately 5:50 p.m., at 394 Dumont Avenue, CHOO member Tyliek Cannadate opened fire and repeatedly shot at a group of approximately five people standing outside of a playground in the Tilden Houses. Two individuals who were injured are associates of the WOOO gang.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detectives Michael Lassen and John LaMariana, and Police Officer William Pugliese, supported by the rest of the Brooklyn North Gang Squad, including Detective Dennis Westbrook, under the supervision of Lieutenant Ryan Gillis, Captain Matthew Bomparola, Specialty Units Commanding Officer of Detective Borough Brooklyn North, under Chief Michael Kemper, Commanding Officer of Detective Borough Brooklyn North, and under the overall supervision of Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Iris Das and Assistant District Attorney Martha Duffy of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cilia, Deputy Bureau Chief, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, First Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Alfred DeIngeniis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Raymond Tierney, Executive Assistant District Attorney for the Crime Strategies Unit and Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau.

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An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

DEFENDANT ADDENDUM: 

WOOO MEMBERS:

  1. Shamel Boomer, 17, of Brooklyn.
  2. Tyrick Bradley, 22, of Brooklyn.
  3. Kamiya Brown, 20, of Brooklyn.
  4. Camron Clarke, 21, of Brooklyn.
  5. Lawrence Cook, 20, of Brooklyn.
  6. Tyquan Ellison, 20, of Brooklyn.
  7. Henry Gissentaner, 20, of Brooklyn.
  8. Christian Graham, 17, of Brooklyn.
  9. Malik Hymes, 23, of Brooklyn.
  10. Jason Jennings, 21, of Brooklyn.
  11. Jakima Leggett, 19, of Brooklyn.
  12. Destiny Letich, 20, of Brooklyn.
  13. Genique Lewis, 19, of Brooklyn.
  14. Shan Mason, 19, of Brooklyn.
  15. Jaytwon Prince, 20, of Brooklyn.
  16. Nyshawn Ragsdale, 18, of Brooklyn.
  17. Tyshawn Stephens, 17, of Queens.
  18. Equan Ware, 20, of Brooklyn.
  19. Jaheem Ware, 18, of Brooklyn.
  20. Tykim Watson, 20, of Brooklyn.
  21. Jayquan Wise, 19, of Brooklyn.

CHOO MEMBERS:

  1. Tyliek Cannadate, 19, of Brooklyn.
  2. Stephen Coleman, 18, of Brooklyn.
  3. Carlton Darby, 22, of Brooklyn.
  4. Isaiah Feliciano, 19, of Brooklyn.
  5. Isaiah Hart, 18, of Brooklyn.
  6. Ramel Hickson, 21, of Brooklyn.
  7. Ta’Quan Jones, 24, of Brooklyn.
  8. Yussiff Kasim, 25, of Staten Island.
  9. Corey Pandohie, 19, of Brooklyn.
  10. Victoriano Roque, 24, of Brooklyn.
  11. Quayshawn Smith, 27, of Brooklyn.
  12. Brandon Waller, 18, of Brooklyn.
  13. Finesse Young, 26, of Queens.

Note: exhibits that were displayed during the press conference can be viewed here.

 

Bronx Man Who Shot and Paralyzed Former High School Basketball Star Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 28, 2020

 

Bronx Man Who Shot and Paralyzed Former High School
Basketball Star Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison

Defendant Shot Victim in Back Outside Victim’s Home,
Paralyzing Him from the Waist Down

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 35-year-old Bronx man was sentenced to 17 years in prison for a 2016 shooting that paralyzed a 23-year-old former high school basketball star from the waist down. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder in October.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Without any provocation or warning, this defendant opened fire on a defenseless and innocent passerby, forever altering the life of a gifted athlete. Such senseless acts of gun violence have devastating consequences for our communities and cannot be tolerated. I hope today’s sentence brings some measure of closure to the victim and his family for the enduring harm they have suffered and continue to suffer.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as James Sanders, 35, of Parkchester, Bronx. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik to 17 years in prison, following his guilty plea to second-degree attempted murder on October 15, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on December 4, 2016, at approximately 5:20 a.m., Jaquan Causer, 23, was walking to his home on Lefferts Avenue near Bedford Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens when he noticed the defendant arguing with another individual. The victim glanced in the men’s direction, and upon doing so the defendant began to yell at the victim. In an effort to avoid a confrontation, the victim ignored them and continued to walk.

Video surveillance shows the defendant follow the victim a short distance before firing several shots at the victim from behind. The victim called 911 and was taken to Methodist Hospital where doctors determined he was permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

Nearly a year and a half after the shooting, a gun was recovered from the home of a person who was acquainted with the defendant. The gun was matched to ballistic shell casings recovered at the shooting scene.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Kha Dang of the 88th Precinct Detective Squad and Detective Adrianne Jones of the District Attorney’s NYPD Squad, with the assistance of Senior Intelligence Analyst Daniel Figlin, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elaine Albenda, formerly of the District Attorney’s Red Zone Trial Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Robert Schwartz, of the Red Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of Trials.

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Former NYPD Officer Sentenced to Four Years’ Probation for Falsely Claiming Burglary Suspect Tried to Strike Him and His Partner with Vehicle

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

 

Former NYPD Officer Sentenced to Four Years’ Probation for Falsely Claiming Burglary Suspect Tried to Strike Him and His Partner with Vehicle

Perjured Himself by Swearing He Saw Suspect Back Up and Almost Hit Partner,
Then Drive Forward and Narrowly Miss Hitting Officer

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a former New York City Police Department officer was sentenced to four years’ probation following his guilty plea to perjury, making a false statement and official misconduct for making a false written statement and lying in a criminal court complaint and in the grand jury.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant, a former police officer, admitted to the disturbing conduct of falsely charging an individual with a crime he did not commit. Our communities and our criminal justice system rely on the integrity and truthfulness of police officers so we must hold accountable those who abuse their positions and violate the public trust.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Michael Bergmann, 34, who was an NYPD officer for approximately six years and who was last assigned to the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to one day in jail and four years’ probation following his guilty plea in November 2019 to one count of first-degree perjury, one count of second-degree perjury, one count of making a false statement and one count of official misconduct. The District Attorney’s Office recommended a sentence of six months in jail followed by probation.

The District Attorney said that on February 1, 2019, Officer Bergmann and his partner, who were assigned to the Grand Larceny Division, were on patrol on 65th Street between Second and Third Avenues in the confines of the 72nd Precinct, according to the investigation. They pulled up in their unmarked police car alongside a vehicle that had just been parallel parked by a burglary suspect whom Officer Bergmann recognized, with the intention of arresting him for driving without a valid license.

After stopping their unmarked police car alongside the suspect’s car, both officers exited their vehicle. Officer Bergmann claimed in a criminal complaint and in grand jury testimony that the suspect then backed up his car, nearly striking his partner who was located near the rear of the vehicle, and then drove the car forward causing Officer Bergmann – who was directly in front of the car between its headlights — to dive to the ground to avoid being hit as the suspect drove away. Officer Bergmann claimed he suffered slight abrasions to his elbow as a result of his fall to the ground.

The suspect was arrested two days later and charged with various counts of attempted assault and reckless endangerment relating to this February 1, 2019 incident and separately charged with two unrelated burglaries. He was subsequently indicted for what occurred during the February 1, 2019 incident on one count of first-degree attempted assault, one count of attempted assault on a police officer, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of second-degree attempted assault, one count of second-degree reckless endangerment, one count of third-degree assault, one count of third-degree attempted assault, one count of third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and one count of unlicensed operator.

On May 28, 2019, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office obtained video surveillance footage that depicts the February 1, 2019 incident and contradicts Officer Bergmann’s account of what occurred. The footage showed his unmarked police car pull alongside the suspect’s car after the suspect’s car completed parallel parking against the curb. It then showed the suspect’s car drive off when Officer Bergmann and his partner exit their vehicle without ever backing up and without coming close to striking Officer Bergmann, who was never in front of the suspect’s car and who did not move out of the way of the car or fall to the ground when the suspect drove away.

The case was prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau by Assistant District Attorney Salvador Reynozo and Deputy Bureau Chief Christopher Eribo, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Patrick L. O’Connor, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of Trials, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.

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Brooklyn Continued to Record Historic Decline in Violent Crime in 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 3, 2020

 

Brooklyn Continued to Record Historic Decline in Violent Crime in 2019

Murders Remained Below 100 for the Second Straight Year and
Shooting Incidents Went Down by Almost 7%, Bucking Citywide Trends

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that 2019 ended as a historically safe year in Brooklyn, with murders remaining below 100 for the second year in a row, ticking up by one to 99 homicides after the record-breaking low that was recorded in 2018. Shootings across the borough declined by 6.8% in contrast with a nearly 3% increase citywide. As part of the District Attorney’s Justice 2020 plan to ensure equal justice while maintaining public safety, the Brooklyn DA’s Office continued to put in place reform-driven programs that enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In the past year, we continued to prove that criminal justice reforms do not jeopardize public safety – but rather enhance it. Thanks to the NYPD and to my hard-working prosecutors, violent crime keeps going down in Brooklyn. We again led the way in implementing initiatives ahead of the City and State, including declining to ask for bail in most misdemeanors and offering more ways to resolve low-level offenses without a court appearance – which lowered the jail population significantly, kept individuals with their families and did not lead to an increase in crime. I am committed to making headway in my Justice 2020 action plan to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all.”

The District Attorney said that 99 murders were recorded in Brooklyn in 2019, compared with 98 in 2018. It is worth noting, however, that nine of the murders in the 2019 count were reclassified as homicides from incidents that took place in previous years, compared with only two reclassified cases in 2018. Therefore, 90 murders actually occurred over the past year – the lowest number in Brooklyn history. Of the 99 murders in the official count, 63 were due to shootings and 36 were by other means. Citywide, murders were up 7.8% for the year.

There were 290 shooting incidents in Brooklyn in 2019, a 6.8% decline compared to 2018 and four more than in 2017, which had the lowest number of shootings since record-keeping began. There were 22 fewer shootings in the Brooklyn South command and one additional shooting in Brooklyn North, compared to the previous year. Major crime, representing seven serious felonies, went down by 2.5%.

The historic drop in crime is also reflected by the continuing decline of arrests in Brooklyn by the New York City Police Department: 58,288 people were arrested in Brooklyn in 2019, compared with 68,407 in 2018, 80,084 in 2017 and 87,607 in 2016 – an astonishing reduction of one-third since 2016.

In preparation for the new criminal justice law that took effect at the start of 2020, the District Attorney’s Office asked for bail in just under 7% of misdemeanor cases in 2019 – the lowest percentage to date. The number of prosecutions also decreased by using new pre-arraignment diversion programs. To date, 426 cases were dismissed as part of Brooklyn CLEAR, 254 of them in 2019. The initiative allows individuals arrested with small quantities of narcotics to resolve their cases by receiving services rather than appearing in court if they comply with independent assessment-based recommendations. An additional 420 non-violent misdemeanor cases were not prosecuted after those arrested completed Project Reset, which resolves such offenses with appropriate programing before an arraignment, leading to dismissals so eligible individuals never have to appear in court.

In other ground-breaking initiatives over the past year, District Attorney Gonzalez established the first-in-the-nation Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, which reviews parole and clemency applications, facilitates and encourages sealing of past convictions and continues to investigate claims of wrongful convictions; launched the Community Resource Empowerment Center to offer educational and vocational opportunities to those sentenced to community service; and enhanced his Office’s work on safe reentry into society by making regular visits to state prisons, where he discusses resources available to those who finish serving their sentence, and by opening a boutique of donated business attire for formerly incarcerated individuals as part of his Reentry Bureau.

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Ten Alleged Brick Squad Gang Members Charged in 48-Count Conspiracy Indictment That Includes Two Murders and Seven Shootings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 20, 2019

 

Ten Alleged Brick Squad Gang Members Charged in 48-Count
Conspiracy Indictment That Includes Two Murders and Seven Shootings

Incarcerated Defendant Known as The Godfather Allegedly Led the Gang,
Had More Than $25,000 in His Prison Commissary Account;
Gang Allegedly Trafficked Narcotics in Brooklyn, Binghamton and Maine

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced that 10 alleged members of the Brick Squad street gang are variously charged in a 48-count indictment with conspiracy to commit murder, sell narcotics and commit other crimes; murder; weapons possession; narcotics possession; and related charges.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants were allegedly part of a violent and well-organized gang that sold dangerous drugs and committed numerous acts of violence, including murder, in Brooklyn and beyond. My Office’s strategy, in cooperation with the NYPD, is to focus our resources on these types of criminal enterprises that are responsible for a large share of violent crime and mayhem in our communities. Incapacitating this alleged gang will make a measurable improvement in public safety and should send a message that we will continue to root out dangerous gangs and narcotics traffickers.”

Commissioner Shea said, “Working together, we have once again done the important work of stopping an organized group of dangerous criminals. I commend our NYPD investigators and our partners in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their smart, precise approach to curtailing violence in New York City.”

The District Attorney said that six of the defendants were arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Guy Mangano and were either remanded without bail or held on $500,000 bail; the rest of the defendants will be arraigned today and on Monday. The defendants are variously charged with second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first- and second-degree attempted assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree burglary and related crimes. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison on the top conspiracy charge and the five defendants charged with murder face up to 25 years to life in prison. (See defendant addendum).

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants are members of a violent street gang known as Brick Squad, a.k.a., Immortal Stone Gorilla Gang (ISGG), a subset of the larger Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation (UGSN). UGSN is a subset of the Bloods. It is alleged that Brick Squad operated within the confines of the 73rd, 75th, 79th, and 84th Precincts, but also expanded its narcotics distribution to jurisdictions outside New York City including Binghamton, New York and Bangor, Maine.

It is alleged that between March 2017 and December 11, 2019, Brick Squad members engaged in violence to establish geographic dominance and enforce the laws and tenets of the gang. During the course of the conspiracy the defendants allegedly sought to establish and enforce a set of rules and hierarchy within their own ranks and make money for the organization through criminal activity, primarily selling heroin laced with fentanyl, crack cocaine and marijuana. To achieve those goals, some Brick Squad members participated in violent criminal acts, including murder and shootings.

It is alleged that Brick Squad members committed two murders during the course of the conspiracy:

  • On December 7, 2017, at approximately 2:50 a.m., in front of 601 Bainbridge Street in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, Jahsaun Washington, acting in concert with Stephan Khadu and Christopher Garcia, shot and killed a fellow Brick Squad member, John Fernandez, who they mistakenly believed was cooperating with law enforcement and who was also faulted for not making enough money for the gang.
  • On April 18, 2018, at approximately 8:38 p.m., in front of 175 Hart Street, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Quazeer Farmer, acting in concert with Stephan Khadu and Markel Pender, shot and killed Claudell Gary in the culmination of a year-long feud between the Gary family and Brick Squad members from the same Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

During the course of the conspiracy, it is alleged, incarcerated Brick Squad members, including ringleader Howard Smith, a.k.a., Hamo or The Godfather, Markel Pender, Lee Kennedy, and others communicated with non-incarcerated members in prison phone calls to keep up to date on the status of members or to discuss violent acts. Furthermore, it is alleged, it was part of the conspiracy for Brick Squad members to make money for the organization through criminal acts including committing a burglary and selling narcotics. The narcotics distribution was allegedly based in Brooklyn but expanded to other jurisdictions, including Bangor, Maine and Binghamton, New York.

It is alleged that the proceeds of the narcotics sales were distributed among the high-ranking incarcerated members in the form of frequent deposits from some of the defendants to the incarcerated defendants prison commissary accounts, e.g., as of September 2019 Howard Smith had $25,751 in his personal prison commissary account and Markel Pender had $12,587.

The defendants are also variously charged with seven shootings and a burglary in which a safe containing approximately $3,000 was allegedly stolen from the home of a rival, a member of the Gary family.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Douglas Rome, with the assistance of Detective Michael Algieri, under the supervision of Sergeant Andrew Dunton, Sergeant Calvin Fergus, Sergeant Scott McKenna, Lieutenant Richard Zacarese and Captain Thomas Passolo, and the overall supervision of Inspector Richard Green, of the Violence Reduction Task Force.

The case was additionally investigated by Junior Analyst Alexandra Aber and Supervising Analyst Brooke Middleton, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit. Paralegal Heidi Spitzer also assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys James Slattery and Jhounelle Cunningham and Assistant District Attorney Maria Paolillo, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cilia, Deputy Bureau Chief, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, First Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Alfred DeIngeniis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Raymond Tierney, Executive Assistant District Attorney for the Crime Strategies Unit and Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau.

An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

DEFENDANT ADDENDUM:

  1. Quazeer Farmer, 20, of Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn.
  2. Christopher Garcia, 21, of Fulton Street, Brooklyn.
  3. Lee Kennedy, 35, of Bridge Street, Brooklyn.
  4. Stephan Khadu, 22, of Willoughby Avenue Brooklyn.
  5. Andrew Marquis, 21, of Paris Court, Staten Island.
  6. Jerome Noble, 30, of Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn.
  7. Markel Pender, 26, of Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn.
  8. Howard Smith, 49, of West 16th Street, Brooklyn.
  9. Dayshawn Speed, 28, of York Street, Brooklyn.
  10. Jahsaun Washington, 20, of Liberty Avenue, Brooklyn.

Note: materials displayed during the press conference can be viewed here.

 

Six Defendants Indicted for Running Two Internet-Based Sports Gambling Operations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

 

Six Defendants Indicted for Running Two
Internet-Based Sports Gambling Operations

Allegedly Accepted Over $11 Million in Wagers Over About Six Months

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that six men from Staten Island and New Jersey have been variously charged in two indictments for running illegal Internet-based gambling operations that took in over $11 million in wagers on various professional and collegiate sporting events.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime, but an unlawful conduct that is often connected to loansharking, money laundering and to organized crime. These defendants are charged with allegedly running lucrative gambling operations that took in millions of dollars in bets. We have now shut down their enterprises and will seek to hold them accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Ross Branca, 40, of Freehold, N.J., Stephen Barone, 56, of Jackson, N.J., Bryan “Faith” Kelly, 45, of Staten Island, Petrit “Pete” Lusha, 60, of Staten Island, Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Melfi, 58, of Staten Island, and Anthony Sclafani, 73, of Staten Island.

They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on two indictments in which they are variously charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, first-degree promoting gambling and first-degree possession of gambling records. Branca is additionally charged with second-degree money laundering. The defendants were released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 9, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between September 2018 and March 2019, Branca acted as a Master Agent who controlled a number of Agents, namely Barone, Kelly and Lusha, each with his own set of clients. Members of the conspiracy allegedly accepted sports wagers from betting customers directly and via telephonic and electronic communications to and from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey and elsewhere. They recorded some of the accepted wagers manually and some through the Internet sports gambling website www.Gameday365.ag, which is operated out of Costa Rica.

In addition, Branca allegedly received advice and assistance on logistical matters from Sclafani, During the period charged in the indictment, the operation accepted $9,091,613 in wagers, according to the investigation. The evidence also shows that Branca laundered over $100,000 of gambling proceeds from one of his bettors.

It is further alleged that, starting in February 2019, Kelly also utilized another website, www.playbig365.com. The investigation revealed that Melfi was the Master Agent of that website. Members of this second conspiracy operated in a similar manner to the one allegedly run by Branca. Between September 2018 and April 2019, that website accepted $1,928,499 in wagers, according to the investigation.

The case was investigated by the New York City Police Department’s Criminal Enterprise Investigations. Financial Investigator Veronica Beltran, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, and Investigative Paralegal Matthew Banwer, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Batsidis, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gregory Mitchel, Bureau Chief, and Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Chief of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Long Island Man Convicted of Murder for Shooting Brooklyn Pizzeria Owner to Death as He Arrived Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 9, 2019

 

Long Island Man Convicted of Murder for Shooting Brooklyn
Pizzeria Owner to Death as He Arrived Home

Defendant Faces up to 25 Years to Life in Prison When He is Sentenced

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 44-year-old man has been convicted of murder and other charges for the shooting death of the owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The victim was ambushed outside his home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. He was carrying $15,483 in cash in a plastic bag when he was killed.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With today’s verdict this defendant has been brought to justice for the murder of a beloved husband, father and fixture of the Gravesend community. I commend the jury for its hard work convicting this defendant, and for bringing some solace to the family, friends and many Brooklynites affected by this senseless tragedy.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Andres (“Andy”) Fernandez, 44, of Melville, Long Island. He was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on January 8, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 30, 2016, at about 6:40 p.m., the victim, Louis Barbati, 61, left his restaurant, L&B Spumoni Gardens, located at 2725 86th Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn. He was carrying a plastic bag containing $15,483 in cash.

About an hour earlier, according to the evidence, the defendant, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, was in the vicinity of the victim’s home on 12th Avenue in Dyker Heights and waited, the evidence shows. At about 7 p.m., the victim arrived at his home, parked his car on the side of the house and got out holding the bag of cash.

The defendant then walked across the street and shot the victim several times, killing him. He subsequently ran, without taking the money, entered a late-model Acura and fled. In addition to being at the murder scene, the defendant was present at L&B Spumoni Gardens earlier that day, according to the evidence.

Surveillance images of the defendant were distributed by the New York City Police Department and he was identified by several witnesses. He was arrested by federal authorities on November 3, 2016.

The District Attorney thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for their assistance in the investigation.

The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Chance Adam and New York City Police Department Detective James Hemmer, of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad.

Homicide Paralegal Supervisor Jannette Ayala and Junior Intelligence Analyst Eungee Hwang, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the prosecution.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jingu Chong, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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East New York Teenager Indicted for Fatally Shooting Man in Prospect Lefferts-Gardens Bodega Following Dispute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 6, 2019

 

East New York Teenager Indicted for Fatally Shooting Man
in Prospect Lefferts-Gardens Bodega Following Dispute

Defendant Allegedly Shot into the Bodega from Sidewalk, Striking Victim Multiple Times

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an 18-year-old teenager has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting a man inside a Prospect Lefferts-Gardens bodega following an earlier dispute between the victim and the defendant’s friend.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “When this defendant allegedly opened fire, he claimed the life of a father of six and well-known member of the Flatbush community. He also endangered the lives of every other innocent person inside the store. There is no place in Brooklyn for gun violence. We will now seek to get justice for the victim and his loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joshua Louis, 18, of East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The defendant was held without bail and ordered to return to court on February 28, 2020. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on October 10, 2019 at approximately 9:55 p.m., the defendant began looking for Dwayne Smith, 41, following an earlier dispute between the victim and a friend of the defendant. The defendant allegedly found the victim inside of KHF Supermarket on Flatbush Avenue, near Parkside Avenue, and fired into the store from the sidewalk multiple times.

Smith, an amateur filmmaker and clothing designer, was struck several times in the torso and was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died.

Surveillance video from outside the bodega shows the defendant allegedly pull out a gun and repeatedly shoot into the store. An eyewitness also identified the defendant as the shooter.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Gregg Licari of the 71st Precinct and Detective Gilbert Alonso of Brooklyn South Homicide. Paralegal Meghan Brancato, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Olatokunbo Olaniyan, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.