WASHINGTON – A Pittsburgh man was sentenced today to 125 months in prison for conspiring to conduct a racketeering enterprise related to his membership in a Pittsburgh Crips gang, 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.
Kevin Underwood, 30, aka “J-Reed,” pleaded guilty on March 23, 2011, before Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond in the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of conspiracy to engage in a racketeering enterprise.
According to the guilty plea, Underwood and others participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included robberies at gun point; attempted murders; distribution of cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine; obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.
According to court documents, Underwood was a member of the Brighton Place Crips, a criminal street gang that controlled an 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 Crips were formed in the early 1990s; in 2003, it formed an alliance with the Northview Heights/ Fineview Crips. This alliance expanded the gang’s drug trafficking territory, and increased the number of gang members and associates available to preserve and protect the gang’s power, territory and profits through violence.
The Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips 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 and bonds, as well as payments to jail commissary accounts and support payments to incarcerated members’ families.
In addition, gang members had violent confrontations with members of the rival Manchester OGs and other street gangs operating in the Northside area of Pittsburgh. Members and associates obtained greater authority and prestige within the enterprise based on their reputation for violence and their ability to obtain and sell a steady supply of illegal drugs. According to court documents, the 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 court documents, Underwood was considered a respected member and leader of the enterprise due to his reputation for violence, as well as his demonstrated ability to instruct other members as to how to conduct the affairs of the enterprise, including the possession and distribution of firearms, acts of violence, the possession and distribution of controlled substances, and acts of witness intimidation. Underwood also distributed heroin on behalf of the Crips gang.
Underwood is one 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, 20 members or associates of the Brighton Place/ Northview Heights Crips who were charged in this indictment have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
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 L. 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.