NEW YORK – Eight alleged gang members were charged in connection with shootings in which innocent people were injured, robbery of ride-sharing car drivers and stealing $ 300,000 in relief funds related to the pandemic, the prosecutor jointly announced Tuesday. of the Bronx, Manhattan and the New York City Police Commissioner.
In addition, the defendants received charges in relation to the possession of 12 firearms.
All eight are charged in the Bronx with 155 counts, some of those counts of conspiracy to commit murder. For their part, five of those are charged in Manhattan in connection with a robbery report that targeted Uber and Lyft drivers and state unemployment funds.
“These suspected gang members are charged with the two gang activities that affect our communities: financial crime and wanton gun violence,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. “The Manhattan District Attorney Vance’s office and the NYPD began investigating them for allegedly robbing ride-share drivers and other robberies and executed search warrants at their Bronx homes where they recovered seven firearms. My Violent Criminal Enterprises office then conducted an investigation and linked the gang to a shooting at a car dealership where a father was injured while protecting his children, and to another street shooting targeting rival gang members who Instead, he injured a 52-year-old woman for life. Our investigation also recovered five weapons and two large capacity magazines. With our law enforcement partners, I will not allow people to destroy The Bronx, bullet by bullet. ”
“Our mission is to modernize and reposition the Manhattan district attorney’s office to address contemporary threats to New Yorkers, and this case shows how the investments we have made to become a global leader in cyber are to have a real-world impact on the safety of our communities, “said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. “As alleged, the alleged gang members 30 Block They did not limit their crimes by robbing essential workers during the pandemic or looting unemployment funds intended to be a lifeline for the most vulnerable; They also helped fuel a wave of gun violence in what would turn out to be a very bloody summer. Thanks to the expertise of the Identity Theft and Cybercrime office, we were able to unravel these massive schemes and help unmask the perpetrators of multiple shootings. This case emphasizes the need for collaboration between counties, and I am grateful to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department, and all of our law enforcement partners for their work in this investigation. “.
Clark said seven of the defendants were indicted in late July in the Bronx Supreme Court on one indictment of conspiracy in the second degree (conspiracy to commit murder), attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, criminal possession. second degree of a weapon, third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and other charges. They were sent to preventive detention.
Vance noted that the defendants in the Manhattan case were indicted Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court for grand theft in the second degree, identity theft in the first degree and conspiracy in the fifth degree, among other charges, for their roles in the plan to stealing ride-share drivers and stealing unemployment benefits.
The Manhattan investigation began in May 2020, when the Office of CyberCrime and Identity Theft was examining complaints submitted to the NYPD during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. It all started with a $ 750 robbery from a Lyft driver in which the Manhattan district attorney’s office found a sprawling high-tech scheme targeting rideshare drivers. In total, between January and April 2020, defendants Daijon Crawford, Aaron Heredia, Zykeith Fearon, and Kelechi Ogidi allegedly stole about $ 6,500 from drivers who worked for companies like Lyft and Uber.
During the investigation of these rideshare thefts, investigators observed that several of the defendants posted photos of cash and money orders on their social media accounts. With the help of the United States Postal Service, the Manhattan district attorney’s office determined that these money orders were purchased with debit cards loaded with fraudulently obtained pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Between May and September 2020, the four defendants and Akeyle Baker reportedly used stolen identities to receive more than $ 300,000 in unemployment funds related to the pandemic from various states. Additionally, three defendants reportedly received more than $ 50,000 in unemployment benefits directly from New York State.
In October 2020, the Manhattan District Attorney and other agencies executed search warrants at the homes of the defendants in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, Yonkers and Mount Vernon. Investigators recovered more than $ 100,000 in cash and money orders, more than 150 credit and debit cards and a laptop open to an online unemployment claim from another state, as well as loaded firearms.
Based on evidence obtained from the Manhattan district attorney’s search warrants, the Bronx district attorney’s office and the Violent Criminal Enterprises group launched their own investigation into the violent crimes committed by suspected gang members. 20-30.
According to the indictment in the Bronx, on or about August 9, 2020, the defendant Baker would have sent a message in an instant messaging application stating that the chat participants needed the address of a member of the rival gang to be able to shoot him.
According to the investigation, on September 21, 2020, defendants Baker, Heredia, Crawford, Fearon and others allegedly exchanged dozens of messages on an instant messaging app in which they agreed to and planned to shoot the rival gang member. Later that day, between 20 and 30 crew members went to a car dealership in 4077 Boston Road, where his intended goal was to look at luxury vehicles.
Defendants Baker, Fearon and Crawford allegedly fired multiple shots at their target and he returned fire. A 39-year-old Bronx man who was there to buy a car with his three children was caught in the shooting and was shot three times while shielding his children with his body. A bullet remained in his thigh.
According to the investigation, on the afternoon of September 30, 2020, in East 224th Street, Delroy Salmon, along with others, allegedly shot an unidentified rival gang member, but struck an innocent bystander, a 52-year-old woman who sustained a life-changing injury.
Tahari Pritchard was charged with possession of a loaded handgun in January 2021 and Dorien Alexander was charged in March 2021 with possessing four loaded firearms.
All of the defendants are in their 20s.
Akeyle Baker, 22
Daijon Crawford, 21
Zykeith Fearon, 21
Aaron Heredia, 21
Tahari Pritchard, 20
Kelechi Ogidi, 21
Delroy Salmon, 21
Dorien Alexander, 20