DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE AND POLICE COMMISSIONER BRATTON ANNOUNCE LARGEST INDICTED GANG CASE IN NYC HISTORY
Gangs Accused of 2 Homicides, 19 Non-Fatal Shootings, Approximately 50 Shooting Incidents
14 Indictments Charging 16 Different Gangs Filed Since Formation of DA’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit
Earlier this week, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York City Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the indictments of 103 members of three violent street gangs – 3STACCS and their rivals, MAKE IT HAPPEN BOYS and MONEY AVENUE – that engaged in a bitter and bloody turf war in West Harlem. The violence charged in the indictments includes at least 19 non-fatal shootings, approximately 50 shooting incidents without hits, and two homicides. One of the victims referenced in the indictments is Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy, an 18-year-old high school basketball star who was fatally shot in the Grant Houses in 2011.
The two separate indictments charge 145 counts, including Conspiracy in the First Degree, a class A-I felony, as well as Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Gang Assault and Attempted Gang Assault in the First Degree, Assault in the First and Second Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. The first- and second-degree conspiracy charges are based on conspiracies to commit Murder in the Second Degree. All 103 defendants are charged with Conspiracy to Commit Gang Assault in the First Degree. The indictments follow a 4 ½-year investigation led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit and the NYPD’s Gang Division.
“The deadly and dangerous feud between the Manhattanville and Grant Houses dates back decades,” said District Attorney Vance. “In the last four years, it has escalated into a bloody turf war marked by violence for the sake of violence. To build a case this extensive, prosecutors and investigators analyzed more than 40,000 calls from correctional facilities, screened hundreds of hours of surveillance video, and reviewed more than a million social media pages. Since 2010, my Office and our partners in the NYPD have worked together to systematically dismantle 16 gangs throughout the borough, one-by-one, by mapping the violence and using intelligence-driven strategies to guide our prosecutions. In the coming months, we will be actively engaged with community leaders and local stakeholders to ensure that the gains in public safety achieved by today’s law enforcement action are never lost.”
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “With the arrests and indictments of these individuals, the New York City Police Department, along with our partners from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, have permeated three major gangs that overwhelmed the streets of West Harlem, predominantly within the Grant and Manhattanville Housing Developments. The many law-abiding members of the communities afflicted by this violence are now walking on safer streets.”
Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said: “Our work with the NYPD and Manhattan DA is part of DOC’s commitment to helping keep New York City the safest big city in America. I’m proud of the terrific investigators in DOC’s Gang Intelligence Unit, whose access to information played a vital role in this important inter-agency effort.”
According to the indictments (which can be read here and here), between approximately January 1, 2010 and May 30, 2014, the defendants in all three gangs attempted to kill one another; bought and possessed illegal firearms and ammunition; and physically assaulted rival gang members with the intent to cause serious physical injury. They sought to assert control and protect their territory through a series of shootings, stabbings, slashings, assaults, gang assaults, robberies, and firearms possession. They also engaged in acts of retaliatory gun violence and physical assaults in order to avenge shootings and murders committed by one group against another. As charged under the conspiracy, the defendants also engaged in this activity in order to enhance their status, compete with rival street gangs, provide each other with intelligence about police activity and law enforcement efforts, discourage members and associates from cooperating with law enforcement, and keep incarcerated members informed of ongoing criminal activities.
As detailed in the indictments, the defendants used hundreds of Facebook posts and direct messages, cell phone videos, and calls made from Rikers Correctional Facility to plot the deaths of rival gang members. Gang members also used social media to publicize and claim credit for acts of violence and publically disrespect and denigrate rival gang members.
It was also part of the conspiracy for gang members in their late teens and early twenties to identify and cultivate dozens of young recruits between the ages of 10 and 14 years old, in part by promising social and economic benefits and encouraging these pre-teen gang recruits to become new members and participate in acts of gun violence and physical violence against rivals. The young recruits would also carry out instructions from older members related to the commission of shootings, stabbings, slashings, beatings, and transporting illegal firearms.
Sources: Manhattan DA’s Office and NYPD
According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, the 36 members of 3 STACCS charged in the indictment have residential, family, or social ties to the General Grant Houses, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complex located between Broadway and Morningside Avenue, and West 123rd to West 125th Streets in Manhattan. They are accused of conspiring and attempting to kill members of MAKE IT HAPPEN BOYS and MONEY AVENUE, rival street gangs in West Harlem, in order to protect their territory and avenge acts against 3 STACCS, including avenging the murder of Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy, who was shot to death in a stairwell of the Grant Houses on September 11, 2011. Two members of the Make It Happen Boys – Robert Cartagena and Tyshawn Brockington were previously convicted in separate trials of Murder in the Second Degree. Each was sentenced to 25-years-to-life in state prison.
Make It Happen Boys/Money Avenue
According to the indictment, the MAKE IT HAPPEN BOYS, a/k/a “The Ville,” a/k/a “Only the Ville” operated near NYCHA’s Manhattanville Houses, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, from West 126th to West 133rd Streets in Manhattan. The 40 charged members of the MAKE IT HAPPEN BOYS allied together with 27 charged members of MONEY AVENUE, formerly known as the “Block Boyz,” who have residential, family, or social ties to the area between Morningside to Manhattan Avenues, from West 115th Street to West 120th Streets. Together, they sought to assert control over this area in order to protect their territory and avenge acts against their gangs, including the murder of Walter “Recc” Sumter on December 30, 2013.
Manhattan District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit and Crime Strategies Unit
In June 2010, District Attorney Vance established the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit (VCEU) to prosecute violent organized street crime. Since its creation and including today’s case, the VCEU has filed 14 indictments against more than 300 members of 16 street gangs and removed more than 900 illegal firearms from the streets of New York. VCEU works closely with the Manhattan DA’s Crime Strategies Unit, which has become a national model for district attorney’s offices around the country. CSU uses intelligence-driven prosecution strategies to identify crime “hot spots” and the people who are driving the crime in those areas. CSU’s analysis included mapping out where violence was occurring and prioritizing those areas, and connecting the dots between the major players responsible for violent crime.
There is evidence that gang members in the present case were aware of and monitoring the dismantling of three East Harlem gangs by the DA’s Office and NYPD last year. In July 2013, three months after the indictments of Air It Out, a/k/a AIO, True Money Gang, and Whoadey were announced, TROY SAUNDERS, a/k/a “Timmy,” a member of 3 Staccs, posted a Facebook message discussing how many years in state prison defendants indicted in the earlier case were receiving. He also compared the feud between the Grant and Manhattanville Houses to that between the Johnson and Taft Houses, which had led to a large number of arrests and indictments.
In that case, the District Attorney’s Office last month announced the guilty pleas of the final two members of Whoadey. In all, 62 members of AIO, True Money Gang, and Whoadey pleaded guilty to engaging in a violent turf war responsible for three murders, more than 30 shootings, as well as violent assaults, firearms possession, and gun trafficking.
That case had an enormous impact on crime in that area. During the period from October 2009 to April, 3, 2013, before the takedown of the three gangs, there were seven homicides, 46-non-fatal shootings, and 17 shots fired in the 23rd Police Precinct in East Harlem. Following the takedown, there have been two homicides, three non-fatal shootings, and zero shots fired in this same area.
The District Attorney’s Office continues to remain actively involved in communities following large-scale gang prosecutions, and seeks to reduce youth violence through community engagement. For that reason, District Attorney Vance is also announcing the opening of the ninth “Saturday Night Lights” site next month in the Manhattanville Houses.
In October 2011, District Attorney Vance launched Saturday Night Lights, a youth athletic and academic program, with support from the NYPD, DEA, NYCHA, Police Athletic League, and Pro Hoops, Inc. It was created in response to the prosecution of several gangs that recruited teenagers and young girls to carry guns and drugs for gang members. To date, the “Saturday Night Lights” program has served approximately 3,500 boys and girls throughout Manhattan between the ages of 11 and 18. It is funded in part by asset forfeiture money seized through anti-drug initiatives.
Assistant District Attorneys Andrew Warshawer, Jonathan Rebold, Brendan Tracy and VCEU Deputy Chief Jon Veiga are prosecuting the cases under the supervision of Christopher Ryan, Chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Assistant District Attorneys Tanya Apparicio and Reynaldo Cabrera also assisted with the investigation, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kerry Chicon, Chief of the Crime Strategies Unit. VCEU Investigative Analyst Robert LaRusso and CSU analysts Jennifer Kushner and Bryan McCarthy also assisted in the investigation.
District Attorney Vance thanked Police Commissioner Bratton and members of the NYPD’s Gang Division, Intelligence Division, Community Affairs Bureau, the 26th Precinct and PSA6. DA Vance particularly thanked Chief Kevin Catalina, Captain Brian Sayre, Lieutenant Stephen Phelan, and Detectives Fernando Espindola, Julio LaSalle, and Ryan Foy of the Gang Division; Lt. Christopher Lundberg of the Real Time Crime Center and Police Office Joseph Murphy; Sergeants Alexander Nivar and Hector Nolasco and Police Office Michael Cousin-Hayes of the Intelligence Division; and 26th Precinct Deputy Inspector Steven Griffith and PSA6 Deputy Inspector Luis A. Despaigne.
District Attorney Vance also thanked NYC Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte and members of its Gang Intelligence Division.