The leader of a Yonkers gang that sold crack and killed rivals for years was convicted Monday of numerous federal charges undefined including some related to a 2009 slaying undefined after prosecutors said during the trial that he had earned a reputation among gang members for not hesitating to use deadly force when protecting the group’s turf.
Steven Knowles, also known as Manny Fresh, was convicted in U.S. District Court in White Plains after being charged in August 2011 with murder, drug dealing and other crimes under federal racketeering statutes.
He was caught up in a gang sweep in which 65 men undefined mostly from the Yonkers-based Elm Street Wolves and the Cliff Street Gangsters undefined were accused of dealing crack, having illegal guns and violently protecting their turf.
The gangs have long been a focus of federal investigators. So has Knowles, who was described as a leader of the Wolves, which authorities said has been active for at least a decade in the Nodine Hill neighborhood.
On Monday, a jury convicted Knowles of most of the charges against him, including ones related to the July 4, 2009, slaying of Christopher Cokley, a member of the rival Strip Boyz gang.
Knowles lost his shoe after scaling a fence and landing in a creek on his way to the Schlobohm housing project, where he and another male emptied their gun clips while opening fire on a group of Strip Boyz members, striking Cokley in the head.
Knowles faces a mandatory life sentence, in addition to 35 years in federal prison, when he is sentenced May 29. Prosecutors said Knowles, a founding member of the Wolves, had been involved in a series of shootings since at least 2004.
The four-week trial featured a number of self-professed gang members who appeared as witnesses for the prosecution undefined people that a lawyer for Knowles argued were “rats” and “criminals” who have lied to authorities repeatedly.