Friday, October 21, 2016

Crips Gang Member Sentenced to 11 Years in Federal Prison for Armed Robbery and Illegal Possession of a Firearm

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Donte Powell, a/k/a "Rain," age 29, of Washington, D.C. and Columbia, Maryland, on October 14, 2016, to 11 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Powell is currently serving a 20-year state sentence for an unrelated armed robbery and Judge Russell ordered that the federal sentence was to be served consecutive that sentence.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board Jr. of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Chief Gary Gardner of the Howard County Police Department; Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino; and Chief Richard McLaughlin of the Laurel Police Department.

According to his plea agreement, Powell is a member of the Crips gang and is affiliated with the set called "Dogghouse Crips." Powell admitted that on January 21, 2014, he and co-defendant Avery Terry robbed the CVS Pharmacy in Elkridge, Maryland at gun point. A store video camera recorded the robbery, including the distinctive clothing worn by the robbers. Powell was armed with a black handgun. Powell had a previous felony conviction and was prohibited from possessing a gun or ammunition.

On January 26, 2014, Howard County Police arrested Desmick Lewis in connection with a January 23, 2014 robbery and homicide. At the time of his arrest, Lewis was in a car driven by Avery Terry. Police recovered a black .38 caliber revolver, different from the gun used in the CVS robbery, from under the driver’s seat where Terry was sitting.

A Howard County detective who was investigating the CVS robbery was also participating in the execution of the arrest warrant that day. The detective noticed clothing in Terry’s car that matched the distinctive clothing worn by the Powell and Terry during the CVS robbery on January 21. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Terry’s home and recovered a mask and other clothing matching that worn by one of the CVS robbers.

Powell was arrested on February 3, 2014 in Laurel. According to Laurel Police, an officer spotted a car without its lights on just after 1 a.m., traveling the wrong way on a one-way street.

When officers began pursuing the driver, they saw a naked man jump out of the passenger side of the car. The driver crashed shortly thereafter, flipping the car. The naked man told police he was the victim of an armed robbery. After Powell’s arrest, a loaded .40 caliber pistol was recovered from the car. That gun was subsequently identified as the gun used in the CVS robbery. Powell pleaded guilty to the armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. While serving his sentence, Powell continued to state his allegiance to the Crips gang in recorded jail calls and in letters.

Subsequent investigation revealed Powell and Terry had additional knowledge of the January 23, 2014, robbery/homicide. Evidence presented at the sentencing reflected that Powell, Terry, Lewis, and others involved in the robbery/homicide met after the murder and discussed what had happened. Call records show that between January 21 and January 26, 2014, there were also frequent telephone communications between Powell, Terry, Lewis, and others involved in the robbery/homicide.

Avery Terry, age 23, of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to the robbery of the CVS Pharmacy on January 21, 2014, in Elkridge, Maryland, and to using and brandishing a firearm during that robbery. In addition, Terry pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the January 23, 2014 robbery and murder. Terry was sentenced to 181 months in prison.

Desmick Lewis, age 24, of Columbia, pleaded guilty in Howard County Circuit Court to his role in the January 23, 2014 robbery and murder and was sentenced to life in prison

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the ATF, Howard County Police Department, Laurel Police Department, and Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Lauren E. Perry, who prosecuted the case.

ATF Offers Reward Up to $5,000 in Robbery Investigation

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is announcing a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the robbery of the Domino’s Pizza in Fayetteville, N.C.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, at approximately 2:32 a.m., an unidentified armed male suspect robbed the Domino’s Pizza located at 596 N. Reilly Road, Fayetteville, N.C. The suspect fled the scene and has not been identified to date.

This violent crime is being investigated by ATF and the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD).

ATF along with our law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that our communities are safe, and that those who commit violent crimes such as this are held accountable.  Anyone with information about this crime should contact ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (800-283-4867), email (link sends e-mail), or contact ATF through its website at Tips may also be submitted to ATF using the ReportIt® app, available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, or by visiting (link is external).

Additionally, anyone can contact Fayetteville Police Department Detective W. Lee at (910) 973-3638 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477).  Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically by visiting (link is external) and completing the anonymous online tip sheet or by test-a-tip on your mobile device by sending a message to 274637 (in the text box type “4Tip” followed by your message. All calls and tips will be kept confidential.

Jury Convicts Rochetser Man of Murder and Narcotics and Firearms Offenses

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Damion Colabatistto, 39, of Rochester, NY was convicted following a jury trial of murder, conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin and possessing firearms during, in relation to and in furtherance of the narcotics conspiracy.

“This verdict concludes a prosecution involving one of the most violent group of defendants that Rochester has ever seen,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Over the course of a decade, these defendants trafficked deadly drugs, brutally attacked those they perceived as threats, and were willing to murder without regard for might be harmed by their gunfire. The entire community should be proud of the extraordinary work of Assistant United States Attorneys Rodriguez and Marangola, and all who worked on this critically important prosecution. “

ATF Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict said, “Damion Colabatistto was an enforcer for a violent narcotics distribution organization who was responsible for many acts of violence in support of the group’s illicit activities in the greater Rochester area. That violence extended to innocent people, including Moesha Harmon, 20 years old, a mother of two small children, who was gunned down just a few days shy of her 21st birthday, when Colabatistto, attempting to kill a target of the organization, fired multiple times into the wrong house. Though no words can replace the love of a mother lost so senselessly and tragically, we hope that Colabatistto’s conviction brings some closure to Ms. Harmon’s children and the rest of her family. Those out there who use firearms to intimidate, injure, or kill should know that ATF and our law enforcement partners remain committed to seeing you arrested, convicted, and imprisoned. We would like to express our gratitude to the Rochester Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their dedication to this investigation.”

The murder conviction carries a maximum term of life in prison, the drug conspiracy a maximum term of 20 years in prison, and the firearms conviction carries a mandatory minimum five years in prison and a maximum of life, to run consecutive to the sentences imposed on the other counts of conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Everardo A. Rodriguez and Melissa M. Marangola, who handled the prosecution of the case, stated that on July 26, 2009, the defendant and his former brother in law and friend Angelo Ocasio went to 137 Cameron Street looking to kill a rival drug dealer with whom Colabatistto and another co-conspirator had fought with the night before.

When they arrived at the house, Colabatistto and Ocasio shot and killed Moesha Harmon when she came to the upstairs window of the residence believing she was the rival drug dealer.

In May 2016, Angelo Ocasio was convicted following a jury trial in connection with the shooting of Meosha Harmon and of the underlying drug trafficking conspiracy. Ocasio will be sentenced on November 9, 2016.

During Colabatistto’s trial, the Government’s evidence established that one of the two guns used to murder Meosha Harmon was also used to murder Jose Troche on January 14, 2010 outside his house at 510 Augustine Street in Rochester. Jose Troche was a member of the drug distribution conspiracy along with Colabatistto and Ocasio. The drug conspiracy was headed by James Kendrick and his brother Pablo “Paul” Plaza. Troche was murdered because Kendrick and Plaza feared that Troche would cooperate against Kendrick in an ongoing narcotics prosecution. Colabatistto participated in the planning of the Troche murder and was the getaway driver when Paul Plaza shot Troche on the morning of January 14, 2010.

James Kendrick and Paul Plaza were tried in a separate seven-week trial in June and July of this year. They were each found guilty of the drug trafficking conspiracy and of several firearms offenses, including offenses relating to the murder of Jose Troche. Kendrick and Plaza were also found guilty of the murder of Francisco Santos in October 1998. Santos’ body was found in May 1999 buried on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation in Erie County, NY.

James Kendrick was also found guilty of the murder of Ryan Cooper in the spring of 1999.

Cooper’s remains have never been found. Like Jose Troche, both Santos and Cooper (who was a cousin of Kendrick’s and Plaza’s) were murdered because Kendrick and Plaza believed they were disloyal members of the conspiracy who had cooperated with the police or were planning to do so. Kendrick and Plaza will be sentenced on November 22, 2016.

The drug conspiracy that Colabatistto and Ocasio were members of and was led by Kendrick and Plaza, was a large, long term and very violent drug distribution group. The group committed multiple beatings, shootings and murders to protect their drug operations and to retaliate against those who posed a danger to the conspiracy, including disloyal workers and rival drug dealers.

Damion Colabatistto’s conviction is the culmination of an investigation which commenced in 2010. As a result of the investigation and resulting prosecutions, four murders (Francisco Santos in 1998, Ryan Cooper in 1999, Meosha Harmon in 2009 and Jose Troche in 2010) have been solved and the responsible murderers have been brought to justice.

Altogether, 11 co-conspirators have been convicted in connection with the underlying drug distribution conspiracy and/or the firearms possessions and murders committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.

The conviction of Colabatistto and of his co-conspirators before him are the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict, New York Field Division, and the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli.