WASHINGTON – A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty today in federal court to charges of conspiring to conduct a racketeering enterprise related to his membership in a Pittsburgh Crips criminal enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Nicklas Gay, 23, aka “GK,” pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond to one count of conspiracy to engage in a racketeering conspiracy.
According to the guilty plea, Gay and others participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included multiple acts involving robberies at gun point; attempted murders; distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine; and acts of obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.
According to court documents, Gay was a member 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 nearby Fineview neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The gang had been operating in Northside since 2002, and 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 Brighton Place Crips is a criminal street gang formed in the early 1990s that controlled the area of Brighton Place and Morrison Street, also known as the Mad Cave, and Federal Street in the Northside area of Pittsburgh.
The Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintained 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 and bonds, as well as payments to jail commissary accounts and support of incarcerated members’ families.
In addition, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintains an ongoing feud with the Manchester Original Gangsters, a criminal street gang located in the Manchester area of the Northside Section of Pittsburgh. Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang members identify themselves by wearing blue, using Crips gang hand signals, and using phrases such as “Cuz,” “C-Safe,” “Loc” and “G.K.” According to court documents, members and associates of the gang obtain greater authority and prestige within the gang based on their reputation for violence and their ability to obtain and sell a steady supply of illegal drugs.
According to court documents, Gay acted as a “hustler” or distributor of controlled substances including heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, for the gang. He also acted as a “soldier/ gorilla” or enforcer for the gang, providing protection for the enterprise through the commission of violent crimes.
Also today, Michael Wade, 25, aka “Swade,” and Michael Henson, 29, aka “Henne,” members of the Northview Heights/ Brighton Place Crips, were sentenced to 70 and 110 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the criminal enterprise. Wade and Henson pleaded guilty on Feb. 2, 2011, and Feb. 1, 2011, respectively, to one count of conspiracy to engage in racketeering before Judge Diamond.
Gay, Wade and Henson are three of 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.
Gay faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 7, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles A. Eberle and Troy Rivetti of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Kevin Rosenberg of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. 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.