Baltimore TTP Bloods Leader Who Produced “Stop Snitching” Videos and Eastern Shore TTP Leader Convicted of Racketeering Activities
Ronnie Thomas Produced and Appeared Prominently in “Stop Snitching” Videos
Baltimore, Maryland - A federal jury convicted Sherman Pride, a/k/a Dark Black and DB, age 35, of Salisbury, Maryland; and Ronnie Thomas, a/k/a Rodney Thomas, Skinny Suge and Tall Vialz, age 36, of Baltimore, yesterday evening of participating in a racketeering conspiracy through the Tree Top Piru Bloods (TTP Bloods), which engaged in narcotics trafficking, conspiracy to commit murder and robbery. Pride also was convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine.
The jury verdict was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Wicomico County State’s Attorney Davis Ruark; Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis; the Washington County Narcotics Task Force led by Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore; Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr.; Acting Salisbury Police Chief Ivan E. Barkley; and Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith.
“Many dangerous criminals have been convicted and removed from Maryland as a result of superb work by police and prosecutors on the TTP Bloods investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Racketeering cases often are time-consuming, but they make a dramatic contribution to public safety.”
“Violent gangs are no longer isolated to our inner cities, they are invading communities throughout Maryland and across our nation,” says ATF Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop. “We are relentlessly working to stop their spread of violence; and no matter where they set up shop, ATF will shut them down.”
TTP Bloods, a violent gang, originated from a street gang known as “the Bloods” that was formed in Los Angeles, California in the early 1970s. The Bloods broke into individual “sets” including a subset known as Tree Top Pirus (TTP). TTP spread throughout the country, including Maryland. TTP in Maryland has its roots in a local gang which began in the Washington County Detention Center in Hagerstown, Maryland in about 1999. The gang was formed for mutual protection in response to the aggression of other inmates from Baltimore and spread throughout Maryland mostly by recruiting from inside Maryland prisons.
According to trial testimony, from 2005 to February 2008 Pride and Thomas were members of TTP. In letters written by TTP leaders, Pride was identified as the leader of the Maryland Eastern Shore set of the TTP and Thomas was also identified as a gang leader in Maryland. Thomas produced both “Stop Snitching” videos. Thomas discussed with another gang member retaliating against a store owner who refused to sell his “Stop Snitching 2” video.
Testimony was also introduced at trial that: Pride was arrested after attempting to toss a bag containing crack and drug paraphernalia into a car to hide it from police; and that Pride told a fellow prisoner in a jailhouse that he was a high-ranking Blood on the Eastern Shore and had arranged the transport of kilograms of cocaine from California to Salisbury, Maryland.
Pride and Thomas face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the RICO conspiracy. Pride also faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the drug conspiracy. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. scheduled sentencing for April 23, 2010 at 1:00 and 2:00 p.m.
Twenty-five additional gang members have been charged in the racketeering conspiracy. Fourteen defendants have pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy and 10 of those have been sentenced to between 21 months and 30 years in prison. Five defendants charged with racketeering conspiracy, Keili Dyson, Anthony Fleming, Michelle Hebron, Tavon Mouzone and Keon Williams, are scheduled for trial starting March 22, 2010. Four defendants have pleaded guilty to gun or drug offenses.
In addition to Thomas, eight other individuals connected with the “Stop Snitching” videos have been prosecuted in federal court. Co-defendant Van Sneed, who testified in the instant trial that he appeared in the original video, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Akiba Matthews, the cameraman who appeared in the original video, was convicted of drug and gun offenses and sentenced in August 2008 to 30 years in prison. Sherman Kemp, who was prominently featured in the original video, pleaded guilty to drug and gun offenses and was sentenced in October 2008 to 15 years in prison. George Butler, who appeared in the original video, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Warren Polston, who speaks in the original video, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and was sentenced to five years in prison. Eric Bailey, who proclaimed “rat poison” the cure for cooperators in the original video, was sentenced to 37 months for a gun crime. Former Baltimore City police officers William King and Antonio L. Murray, whose names were featured in the original “Stop Snitching” video, were convicted of robbery, drug trafficking and firearms offenses and sentenced in June 2006 to 315 years and 139 years in prison, respectively.
Mr. Rosenstein and Ms. Jessamy gave special thanks to Secretary Gary Maynard of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Commissioner J. Michael Stouffer of the Maryland Division of Correction; Director Patrick McGee of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation; and the officers at the Western and North Branch Correctional Institutions and the Wicomico County Detention Center for their work in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
Mr. Rosenstein and Mrs. Jessamy also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hanlon, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Mason, a cross-designated Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney, who are prosecuting the case and Assistant State’s Attorney LaRai Forrest who assisted in the prosecution.