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  • Sat, October 10, 2015 1:27 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    The bloody rivalry between Buffalo’s 7th and 10th Street gangs is sending two more gang members to prison.

    Kasiem Williams, 26, a former 7th Street Gang member, admitted taking part in several gang shootings, including the murder of Virgil Page, as part of a plea deal this week. Williams shot and killed Page on 19th Street in June of 2010.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi said Page’s murder was part of a “favor for a favor” deal that another 7th Street member made with Efrain “Cheko” Hidalgo, leader of the 7th Street Gang.

    In return, 7th Street member Leslie Cunningham, 44, promised to kill two rival 10th Street members. Cunningham, who claims he was also targeted for murder, admitted Thursday to shooting at two rival gang members and wounding one of them during a June 2010 incident at a corner store on Virginia Street.

    As part of a plea agreement accepted by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, Cunningham pleaded guilty to attempted murder in aid of racketeering.

    Williams pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge.

  • Sat, October 10, 2015 1:22 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    A Rochester man pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday in connection with a bloody Buffalo gang war.

    Leslie Cunningham, 44, pleaded guilty to attempted murder in aid of racketeering, a felony, in front of U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

    Kasiem Williams, 26, of Buffalo and Sammy Ortiz, 28, of Buffalo each pleaded guilty to racketeering, or RICO, conspiracy. Both were members of Buffalo's 7th Street Gang.

    Among other acts of violence, Williams shot and killed Virgil Page in June 2010 in Buffalo. Page was a drug rival of Cunningham.

    In return, Cunningham promised to kill two rival 10th Street Gang members. He admitted to shooting at two and wounding one of them during a June 2010 shooting on Virginia Street in Buffalo.

    Arcara will sentence Cunningham at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 3, 2016.

    A total of 18 defendants have been charged in this case and 12 have been convicted.


  • Sat, October 10, 2015 1:22 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)


    A reputed MS-13 street gang member wanted for allegedly killing a teenager in Roosevelt 13 years ago was apprehended this spring after he fled the country, Nassau County prosecutors said.

    Wuilmer “Chicky” Mendosa was arrested May 5 when he tried to re-enter the country on a flight from a flight from El Salvador to Texas. He was extradited to Long Island this week, where he was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.

    “This defendant fled the country immediately after the crime and now, after nearly 13 years, we have finally have him back in Nassau County, where he is going to face justice,” said Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

    Prosecutors said the 32-year-old suspect shot Johnathan Harris, who had just celebrated his 18th birthday five days earlier, after Mendosa and others asked the victim if he was a member of a rival gang, to which Harris replied, “No,” on Oct. 24, 2002.

    The victim was pronounced dead shortly after the shooting. The suspects fled the scene.

    Judge Teresa Corrigan ordered Mendosa held without bail. He faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted. He is due back in court on Oct. 21.

  • Mon, October 05, 2015 11:26 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)


    DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Gangs that started out as local "youth crews" but grew into citywide networks at Rikers Island are driving up Brooklyn shootings, NYPD leaders said at a meeting Wednesday.

    More than half of north Brooklyn’s 220 shooting incidents this year were gang-related, NYPD Chief Rodney Harrison said at a public forum convened by Borough President Eric Adams.  

    The gangs are a hybrid of traditional gangs including the Bloods and Crips and small local crews of teenagers with members as young as 12, according to NYPD Gang Division head Deputy Chief Kevin Catalina, and they go by such names as "Money Goons," "Team Stack Paper" and "Rich Family."

    In the early 2000s, the youth crews were largely not involved in the drug trade, instead primarily feuding and shooting each other over "silliness," Catalina said.

    But the crews consolidated in Rikers, officials said, when incarcerated members joined gangs for protection.

    "As a result of, again, jail culture, a lot of them have developed now, not only the crew affiliations that they had, that they developed in the 2000s, but now overall gang affiliations that they picked up while they were inside," Catalina said. "So now, those crews that we were having such a difficult time dealing with now have more backing to almost a traditional gang culture, and a lot of these crews are aligned with each other."

    Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Errol Toulon said 16- to 21-year-olds are Rikers’ "most vulnerable population."

    "It’s very difficult, some of them, because once they become incarcerated, they feel like they need some sort of protection or some sense of belonging," he said. "And that’s why they generally, if they weren’t affiliated outside in the streets, they would be affiliated inside once they become incarcerated."

    Of the 9,830 inmates at Rikers, 1,956 are considered gang members, Toulon said. Slightly more than 1,000 Rikers inmates are under the age of 21, according to DOC.

    "A big fight is to move the adolescents off Rikers," he added, "but no one wants them in their backyard either."

    The crews often make money with credit card and check fraud schemes, Catalina said. But as prescription pain pill crackdowns have increased demand for heroin, he said, gangs have delved into the heroin trade.

    Despite the proliferation of gangs in jails, law enforcement officials said their focus was locking up dangerous crew members for "as long as possible," in the words of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office chief of crime strategies, Ed Carroll.

    "Or to keep them on probation, so that they are monitored, so that they’re not on the streets to do violence," Carroll added.

    Rikers has changed the way it calculates the level of risk an inmate poses to account for gangs, spokesman Jack Ryan said in a statement. "DOC’s new housing classification tool takes a much deeper look at gang affiliation in order to house inmates safely and prevent violence."

    One former gang member who now works with at-risk youth through the Department of Probation said many teens who have been swept up in the crew scene were just trying to survive.

    Dedric “Beloved” Hammond, who got involved with a crew at age 11, said in violent pockets of the city, authorities and parents often can't offer the level of physical protection teens need.

    "Six o’clock in the morning they actually got somebody waiting to actually shoot them because last night they got into a fight or they said some words that they didn’t like," he said.

    He added that many teens see few options, other than joining a gang, to ensure their own safety on city streets.

    "Some of these guys can’t make it from 129th to 128th and it’s only one block away,” Hammond told the crowd. "Some of them got forced into this life. It wasn’t a thing they chose."

  • Mon, October 05, 2015 11:25 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)



    Another arrest has been made in the undercover cocaine distribution investigation of the Young Gunnerz gang dubbed Operation Trojan Horse.

    A superseding indictment handed up Wednesday in Rensselaer County Court charges Guionna Fields with first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. She is the 21st person now named in a yearlong investigation into a drug pipeline that pumped large amounts of cocaine from New York City onto Capital Region streets. It was allegedly organized and run by the gang from North Troy.

    Assistant Attorney General Michael Sharpe said Fields — whose age and address were not immediately available — allegedly an associate of Joshua "Shellz" Lewis, 25, of Watervliet. Lewis was indicted in August and reindicted and arraigned Wednesday before Judge Debra Young on 16 felony counts Wednesday in the ongoing investigation. Lewis has pleaded not guilty and is in Rensselaer County Jail without bail.

    He was one of five people who appeared to have been tipped off about the sealed indictment back in August and eluded capture. He was found in North Carolina earlier this month and returned to Troy to be charged.

    Prosecutors continue to investigate the leaks.

    Sharpe said Wednesday that on that trip back from the South, conversations Lewis had with officers led to the identification of Fields and prompted the office of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to re-present the Lewis case before a grand jury in recent days.

    Lewis faces several counts of criminal sales and possession of cocaine. He also faces a count of conspiracy.

    Sharpe alleges Lewis conspired with Daquan "Benji Got the Juice" Murray, who also faces numerous counts and is in jail without bail, to allegedly ferry large quantities of cocaine into the local market from New York City.

    Prosecutors also allege Lewis is a member of the Young Gunnerz gang, also called "YGz"

    "The YGz street gang provides protection, intimidates competition, gives members of the gang notoriety and reputation on the street and serves as a conduit for members of the YGz to find alternate narcotics sources of supply in the event their regular source of supply is unavailable," supporting information in the indictment said.

  • Tue, September 29, 2015 9:15 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    The feds have arrested a reputed Crips gang leader for murdering a rival in a Brooklyn hookah bar last month — a cold-blooded killing that may have triggered a shootout 10 days later that mortally wounded an aide to Gov. Cuomo, the Daily News has learned.

    Larry Pagett, a longtime leader of the Eight Trey Crips, allegedly gunned down Chrispine Philip, a reputed member of the Folk Nation gang, inside the Buda Hookah Bar on Aug. 28, finishing him off with a bullet fired into his brain, according to court papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

    Pagett, 35, then allegedly shot his way out of the Flatbush Ave. lounge bar, hitting numerous people in his path.

    “(Pagett) brazenly opened fire in a crowded bar, killing his intended target and wounding five others,” stated Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes.

    “In doing so, Pagett displayed a complete and utter disregard for human life and the consequences of his actions.”

    Detectives are investigating whether Philip’s murder fueled a wild gun battle between Folk Nation and Eight Trey Crips gang members outside the Ebbets Field Apartments on Sept. 7, sources told The News.

  • Sun, September 27, 2015 12:17 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    Just over a week ago, Duprey said corrections officers had to break up one of the largest fights, involving over 60 inmates, with tear gas.

    "The corrections officers took the appropriate action to stop the fight before anybody was seriously hurt," Duprey said.

    The assemblywoman said the fights aren't just happening at Clinton Correctional Facility; they're happening at prisons all across New York state.

    "Maximum security facilities are very difficult places. There are bad people in there as inmates. They have committed very serious crimes or they wouldn't be there," Duprey said.

    When fights do break out, it's the corrections officers who are responsible for ending them.

    "My concern as somebody who represents all of [the corrections officers] is that when they intervene, and they have to... if we can't get this all under control the corrections officers will be hurt," Duprey said.

    Which is why she said she's focused on confronting the problem to ensure the safety of those who work and live behind prison walls.

    "My biggest priority is the safety and security of the people inside the walls. Certainly the corrections officers, the civilian staff, and the inmates. This is just not acceptable," Duprey said.

    WPTZ reached out to the New York Department of Corrections to ask about the fights at Clinton Correctional facility, but it did not return our request for comment.

  • Sun, September 27, 2015 12:16 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    Gates, N.Y. - Gates Police say they have always taken a proactive approach to fighting gang activity. Police and town leaders, along with the FBI monitor 3,000 gang members. They know who they are, where they live, what they're doing and what crimes they commit.

    Though Town Supervisor Mark Assini said most live in the city, he said some do live in the suburbs and the crimes spill into towns in the community.

    Assini confirmed that 21-year-old Johnny Blackshell, Jr., who was charged in connection with the mass shooting on Genesee Street last month, was a known gang member police have been tracking.

    Blackshell lived on a quiet cul-de-sac in Chili. His arrest and ties to gang activity were a surprise to his neighbors, many of who told us they were afraid to talk on camera.

    Assini said people who don’t think there is a gang problem in Rochester and Monroe County need to acknowledge these gangs not only exist, but can be associated with violent crimes.

    He said Gates has a tough approach to get to the gang members before violence occurs.

    "The first step is to recognize we have a gang problem here...if you belong to a gang, we are going to make your life miserable. You're not going to terrorize suburban towns...we're coming after you," Assini said.

    Assini said he isn't afraid to acknowledge the presence of gangs because he said it's the only way to deal with it.

    While these gangs are sometimes referred to as "groups of youth," Assini said he tells it like it is.

    "Youth groups aren't people who take out AK-47's and mow down their neighbors...we have sent a strong message to these gangs: We will track you down, we know where you are and who you are, you're not going to get away with it."

    Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode said he has always taken a tough approach when it comes to gang activity. He was part of a task force on gang violence when he worked in the Rochester Police Department several years ago. He said gangs aren't anything new; they have just become more violent.

    He said his department has learned of planned concerts, gatherings and other events that were gang-related and shut them down before they could happen.

    He told 13WHAM News, “We have no tolerance for these gangs. The minute they come to Gates, we are all over it. It's something we've taken seriously for 25 years."

  • Sun, September 27, 2015 12:15 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The federal government has awarded Syracuse a $300,000 grant to continue a program to combat gun and street gang violence.

    It's the second time in two years the city has received the grant from the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods program.

    The grant funds a coalition of law enforcement agencies and community groups to reduce gun and gang violence, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said Tuesday.

    The grant will fund Syracuse Truce, a program that began in 2013 in which law enforcement and community service agencies work together to reduce tensions between police and the community in the hope of reducing gang violence.

    Under Truce, police zero in on a small group of gang members responsible for most of the violent crime. Police tell the gangsters there's help if they want it, but that if they commit more violence, law enforcement will target their entire gang.

    Through the city's gang violence task force, eight Syracuse street gangs have been prosecuted in federal court since 2003, Hartunian said.

    Syracuse also received a $1.5 million federal grant in 2013 to support a U.S. Department of Justice program to combat gang and gun violence.

    "There is no higher priority than combining resources to save the lives of our young people," Hartunian said in a news release.

  • Wed, May 20, 2015 7:24 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Two men were convicted of charges in the slaying of a 17-year-old Rochester boy in Monroe County Court.

    The jury found Vincent Bean, 20, guilty on charges of murder, manslaughter and gang assault. The same jury also found Ronald Nelson, 28, guilty of gang assault

    Prosecutors say the men approached Travone Teasley, 17, at the corner of Kirkland and Genesee Street June 20, 2014. They chased him, beat him and then Bean stabbed him to death.

    A third defendant, Deiondre Francis, was also involved and plead guilty.

    Bean faces 25 years to life when he is sentenced June 9, 2015. Nelson faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced the following week.


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