WASHINGTON – Azikiwe Aquart, also known as “Z” and “Ziggy,” pleaded guilty today in Bridgeport, Conn., to three counts of murder in aid of racketeering stemming from his role in the murder of three Bridgeport residents in August 2005, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David B. Fein for the District of Connecticut.
Azikiwe Aquart, 31, of Bridgeport, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill.
According to court documents, statements made in court and evidence introduced during Azibo Aquart’s trial in the spring of 2011, Azibo Aquart, who is Azikiwe Aquart’s brother, was the founder and leader of a drug trafficking group that primarily sold crack cocaine out of an apartment building located at 215 Charles Street in Bridgeport. Azibo Aquart and his associates participated in acts of violence, such as threats and assaults, to maintain their control over the group’s drug distribution activities at the Charles Street Apartments. In the summer of 2005, Azibo Aquart and his associates became involved in a drug trafficking dispute with Tina Johnson, a resident of 215 Charles Street who sometimes sold smaller quantities of crack cocaine without the approval of Azibo Aquart. On the morning of Aug. 24, 2005, Azibo Aquart, Azikiwe Aquart and others entered Apartment 101 at 215 Charles Street and murdered Tina Johnson, 43, her boyfriend James Reid, 40, and friend Basil Williams, 54. The three victims were bound with duct tape and brutally beaten to death with baseball bats.
Today, Azikiwe Aquart specifically admitted that he had agreed to participate in what he believed would be a robbery with his brother and others and, after entering the apartment he murdered James Reid, while other participants in the crime murdered Tina Johnson and Basil Williams.
During the trial of Azibo Aquart, in addition to witness testimony, the government offered extensive forensic evidence gathered from the apartment, including fingerprints and evidence that contained DNA from the Aquarts and others.
Judge Underhill has scheduled Azikiwe Aquart’s sentencing for Nov. 14, 2011, at which time Aquart faces a mandatory life prison term on each of the three counts of murder in aid of racketeering.
On May 23, 2011, after a month-long trial, a federal jury in New Haven, Conn., found Azibo Aquart guilty of the murders of Johnson, Reid and Williams. On June 15, 2011, the jury unanimously determined that Azibo Aquart should be sentenced to death for committing both the racketeering murders and drug-related murders of Johnson and Williams, but could not reach a unanimous decision as to an appropriate penalty, life in prison or death, for the racketeering murder and drug-related murder of Reid.
U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton will schedule a sentencing date for Azibo Aquart after the submission of post-trial motions.
This case was investigated by the FBI, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut Department of Correction’s Intelligence Unit, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, Bridgeport States Attorney’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Dayton, Peter D. Markle, Alina P. Reynolds of the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorney Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss of the Capital Case Unit of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.