WASHINGTON – Four members of a Pittsburgh Crips street gang pleaded guilty this week in federal court to charges of conspiring to conduct a racketeering enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Vance Pearson, 25, aka “Vinny P;” Rayshawn Malachi, 25, aka “Melly Mel;” Arthur Davis, 24, aka “Seven;” and Phillip Turner, 22, aka “Philly C” each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in a racketeering conspiracy before Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond. Davis also pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder under the violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity statute. In addition, Turner pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a carjacking he and an indicted co-conspirator committed at gunpoint on Sept. 4, 2007, and a charge of possession of a firearm on Dec. 15, 2009.
According to the guilty pleas, Pearson, Malachi, Davis, Turner and others participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included multiple acts involving gun point robberies; attempted murders; distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine; and acts of obstruction of justice and intimidation.
According to information presented in court, Pearson, Turner, Davis and Malachi were members of the Northview Heights/ Fineview Crips, a criminal street gang operating out of the Northview Heights public housing facility in the Northside neighborhood, and in the Fineview neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The gang had been operating in Northside since 2002, when in 2003 it formed an alliance with the Brighton Place Crips to expand the gang’s drug trafficking territory and increase the gang’s capability for violence.
The gang maintains exclusive control over drug trafficking in these neighborhoods through continuous violence and intimidation of rivals and witnesses. Members of the gang support each other through payment of attorneys’ fees, bond, jail commissary accounts and support of incarcerated members’ families.
In addition, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintains an ongoing rivalry with other Northside street gangs such as the Manchester Original Gangsters. According to information presented in court, these gangs have been involved in multiple retaliatory shootings. Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang members identify themselves by wearing blue, flashing Crips gang hand signals, and using phrases such as “Cuz,” “C-Safe,” “Loc,” and “G.K.”
According to information presented in court, Pearson, Malachi and Turner acted as “hustlers” or distributors of controlled substances including heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine for the gang. Davis was a “soldier” or enforcer for the gang, providing protection for the enterprise through the commission of violent crimes. Malachi was involved in the distribution of heroin on multiple occasions from approximately 2003 to August 2006 including arrests for heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine. On June 22, 2009, while on probation and still wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, Malachi was arrested selling heroin in the Crips-controlled neighborhood of Northview Heights.
According to information presented in court, on Aug. 27, 2007, Turner and a Crips co-conspirator robbed another man at gunpoint in Crips controlled territory. Less than two weeks later on Sept. 4, 2007, in Crips-controlled territory, Turner and the same Crips co-conspirator robbed a different victim of his automobile at gunpoint. According to the information presented in court, Turner approached the victim as he was walking toward his brother’s automobile and pointed a firearm at the victim while his co-conspirator knocked the victim to the ground. While pointing the firearm at the victim, the two Crips members took the victim’s Nike Jordan shoes, went through the victim’s pockets and stole his brother’s automobile.
In addition, according to information presented in court, Pearson and another Crips member robbed two individuals at gunpoint on May 23, 2005, in the Crips-controlled neighborhood of Northview Heights. While waiting in an automobile for a friend, two victims were approached at gunpoint by Pearson and Michael Wade, a Crips member who previously pleaded guilty in the case. The victims were pulled out of the car at gunpoint and the Crips members robbed the victims of a gold chain, $300, a Playstation video game and a CD player. On May 19, 2005, Davis and other Crips members entered a barbershop in Pittsburgh when a Manchester OG gang member entered and called them “Crabs,” a derogatory term for Crips. Davis followed the rival gang member outside of the shop and shot him four times.
On Sept. 7, 2006, while in a store on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Davis and another Crips member got into an argument with two individuals associated with the Wilson Avenue Gangsters, a rival street gang. They continued their argument into the parking lot where the victims both suffered gunshot wounds . Officers pursued Davis and his accomplice to a nearby residence and inside the home they arrested the two Crips members, and found two firearms and approximately 80 grams of crack cocaine hidden in a vacuum cleaner.
Pearson, Malachi, Davis and Turner are four of the 26 defendants charged in February 2010 with being members of, and conducting racketeering activity through, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang. This prosecution resulted from a Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force investigation that began in 2005. To date, more than half of the Brighton Place/ Northview Heights Crips members who were charged in this indictment have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
Pearson and Malachi face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Davis faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. Turner faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of $500,000. Pearson is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 24, 2011. Davis, Malachi and Turner are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 25, 2011.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles A. Eberle and Troy Rive tti of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Kevin Rosenberg of the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit. The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; the Allegheny County, Penn., Police Department; and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.