Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Eight Maryland TTG Members and Associates Convicted on Federal Racketeering and Drug Conspiracy Charges, Including Nine Murders and Witness Intimidation

Also Convicted of Federal Drug Distribution and Gun Charges

A federal jury today convicted eight Baltimore, Maryland men for conspiring to participate in a violent racketeering enterprise known as Trained To Go (TTG), a subset of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) gang, including nine murders, drug trafficking, and witness intimidation, as well as on conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, marijuana, and cocaine.  Several of the defendants were also convicted of related drug and firearms charges.  

The defendants convicted today are: Montana Barronette, aka “Tana,” and “Tanner,” 23; Terrell Sivells, aka “Rell,” 27; John Harrison, aka “Binkie,” 28; Taurus Tillman, aka “Tash,” 29; Linton Broughton, aka “Marty,” 25; Dennis Pulley, aka “Denmo,” 31; Brandon Wilson, aka “Ali,” 24; and Timothy Floyd, aka “Tim Rod,” 28.

The convictions were announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI Baltimore Field Office; Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle of the Baltimore Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Baltimore District Office and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare.

“For six years, Trained To Go terrorized the Sandtown neighborhood, committing murders, robberies, and other violence as they sold their poison on the streets of Baltimore,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “Today’s convictions ensure that Montana Barronette and the other seven defendants in this vicious gang now will be held accountable for their horrible crimes.” 

 “Federal, state and local law enforcement joined together to target the leaders and key members of one of the most violent gangs operating in Baltimore City,” said U.S. Attorney Hur. “Today’s convictions prove our continuing commitment to removing armed, violent criminals from our neighborhoods and bringing them to justice in the federal system, which has no parole—ever.”

“This investigation represents the epitome of law enforcement agencies working together to target and dismantle violent street gangs that threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods,” said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Johnson.  “The citizens of Baltimore City and Maryland have the FBI’s commitment that we will work with our local, state and federal partners to attack these dealers and remove violent criminals from their neighborhoods.”

According to the evidence presented at their 24-day trial, the defendants are all members of TTG, a criminal organization and subset of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) gang that operated in the Sandtown neighborhood of West Baltimore, whose members engaged in drug distribution and acts of violence including murder, armed robbery, and witness intimidation. Members and associates of TTG sold heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, and worked to defend their exclusive right to control who sold narcotics in TTG territory. As part of the conspiracy, each defendant agreed that a conspirator would commit at least two acts of racketeering activity for TTG.

Specifically, the evidence proved that between May 20, 2010 and May 25, 2016, the defendants and other members of TTG committed acts of violence, including nine murders, shootings, armed robbery, and witness intimidation. The violent acts were intended to further the gang’s activities, protect the gang’s drug territory, and maintain and increase a member’s position within the organization.  Murders were committed in retaliation for individuals robbing TTG members of drugs and drug proceeds, or while TTG members robbed others of their drugs and drug proceeds, as well as in murder-for-hire schemes.  Further, the defendants engaged in witness intimidation through violence or threats of violence, to prevent individuals from cooperating with law enforcement.

The defendants all face a maximum sentence of life in prison on the racketeering and drug conspiracies.  Pulley and Wilson each also face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for being felons in possession of a firearm; and a mandatory minimum of five years, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, and up to life in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Tillman and Sivells also face up to 20 years in prison for distribution and possession with intent to distribute heroin.  U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing.  The defendants remain detained.

Three other TTG members, all of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty.  Brandon Bazemore, aka Man Man, 25, pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy, including three murders and an attempted murder, as well as to the drug conspiracy.  Bazemore and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea, Bazemore will be sentenced to 25 years in federal prison at his sentencing on Nov. 13.  Co-defendants Hisaun Chatman, 31, and James Woodfolk, 20, pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and were each sentenced to five years in prison, to be served concurrent to the state sentence each is currently serving.  

Co-defendant Roger Taylor, of Baltimore, is still a fugitive, and the charges against him are pending.  Anyone who may have information on the whereabouts of Roger Taylor is asked to contact the FBI Baltimore Field office at (410) 265-8080.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Baltimore Police Department, the ATF, the DEA and the Anne Arundel County Police Department, including the FBI Baltimore Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Force, which includes FBI special agents and task force officers from the Baltimore, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County Police Departments.  FBI Baltimore Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Force is responsible for identifying and targeting the most violent gangs in the Baltimore metropolitan area, to address gang violence and the associated homicides in Baltimore.  The vision of the program is to use federal racketeering statutes to disrupt and dismantle significant violent criminal threats and criminal enterprises affecting the safety and well-being of our citizens and our communities.                                                 

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Hanley of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Romano and Daniel Gardner of the District of Maryland prosecuting the case.

Pennsylvania Man Charged with Federal Hate Crimes for Tree Of Life Synagogue Shooting Robert Bowers Indicted on 44 Counts Including Hate Crimes Resulting in Deaths

A federal grand jury sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania charged a Pennsylvania man with federal hate crimes, including the murder of 11 people, for his actions during the Oct. 27, 2018 shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.  United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady, and FBI-Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones made the announcement.

Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., was charged in a 44-count indictment returned today.

According to the indictment, on Oct. 27, 2018, Bowers drove to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where members of the Tree of Life, Dor Hadash, and New Light Jewish congregations gathered to engage in religious worship.  Bowers entered the building armed with multiple firearms, including Glock .357 handguns a Colt AR-15 rifle. The indictment alleges that while inside the Tree of Life Synagogue, Bowers opened fire, killing and injuring members of the three congregations, as well as injuring multiple responding public safety officers.  While inside the Tree of Life Synagogue, Bowers made statements indicating his desire to “kill Jews.”

Specifically, the indictment charges:

    Eleven counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death;
    Eleven counts of use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence;
    Two counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury;
    Eleven counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;
    Eight counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon, and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer; and
    One count of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.

“Hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety. The defendant in this case allegedly murdered 11 innocent people during religious services and injured four law enforcement officers. These alleged crimes are incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation. Therefore this case is not only important to the victims and their loved ones, but to the city of Pittsburgh and the entire nation. I want to express my thanks and admiration for the courage and professionalism of those officers who so quickly responded to this event, and especially to those that suffered wounds in the process. Our thanks is also extended to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the FBI, and the ATF for their outstanding response to this violent and deadly attack. The Department of Justice, working with our state and local partners, will bring the full force of the law against anyone who would violate the civil rights of the American people and we are resolutely determined to achieve justice in this case.”

“A federal grand jury in western Pennsylvania returned a 44-count indictment against Robert Bowers for the killing of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, October 27, 2018,” stated U.S. Attorney Brady.  “Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims’ families, the Jewish community, and our city.  Our office will spare no resource, and will work with professionalism, integrity and diligence, in a way that honors the memories of the victims.  This is what the public expects from the US Department of Justice.  And truly we, as Pittsburghers, can do no other.  It is time to go to work.”

“I want to assure everyone that the FBI has teams of professionals working toward a single goal: to piece together the facts, answer the questions and ensure justice is served,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. “We, as a community, are all united. I also want to thank local law enforcement and first responders for their heroic work. They showed professionalism and extraordinary bravery and their quick actions no doubt saved the lives of many other people that day. We are very lucky that such good people choose lives of service in law enforcement.”

The victims include 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue who were killed, 2 members of the congregation who were critically injured by Bowers and 9 other members of the congregation who escaped unharmed.  Additionally, four law enforcement officers were injured trying to stop Bowers’ rampage.

Assistant United States Attorneys Troy Rivetti and Soo C. Song, along with Trial Attorney Julia Gegenheimer of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The FBI conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

The defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of death, or life without parole, followed by a consecutive sentence of 535 years’ imprisonment.

An indictment is a formal accusation of conduct, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Businessman Indicted for Conspiring to Bribe Senior Government Officials of the Republic of Haiti

A businessman was charged in a superseding indictment filed today for his alleged participation in a scheme to bribe senior government officials of the Republic of Haiti in connection with a planned $84 million port development project, and to launder funds in order to promote the bribery.  An alleged co-conspirator was previously charged in the original indictment.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts, Assistant Director Christopher Hacker of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Special Agent in Charge Harold M. Shaw of the FBI’s Boston Field Office made the announcement.

Roger Richard Boncy, 74, a dual U.S. and Haitian citizen who resides in Madrid, Spain, was charged in a superseding indictment filed in the District of Massachusetts with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Travel Act, one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The superseding indictment also charges Boncy’s co-conspirator, Joseph Baptiste, DDS, 66, of Fulton, Maryland, with the same crimes.  Baptiste was originally charged by indictment in this case in October 2017.  Baptiste’s trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 3, in the District of Massachusetts in Boston.

The superseding indictment alleges that Boncy and Baptiste solicited bribes from undercover agents posing as potential investors in connection with a proposed project to develop a port in the Mȏle St. Nicolas area of Haiti.  The proposed project was expected to cost approximately $84 million and was to involve the construction of multiple cement factories, a shipping-vessel recycling station, an international transshipment station with numerous slips for shipping vessels, a power plant, a petroleum depot and tourist facilities.

During a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel, Boncy and Baptiste allegedly told the agents that, in order to secure Haitian government approval of the project, they would funnel the payments to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity that Baptiste controlled, which was based in Maryland and purported to help impoverished residents of Haiti.  In intercepted telephone calls, Boncy and Baptiste also allegedly discussed bribing an aide to a high-level elected official in Haiti with a job on the port development project, in exchange for the aide’s help in obtaining the elected official’s authorization for the project.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s Boston Field Office and International Corruption Unit investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Elina A. Rubin-Smith of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kriss Basil of the District of Massachusetts are prosecuting the case.