TTP Bloods Member Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy

June 12, 2009

Baltimore, Maryland - Tavon Howard, age 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to conduct and participate in the activities of a racketeering enterprise known as the Tree Top Piru Bloods (TTP Bloods), announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy.

According to his plea agreement, TTP Bloods originated from a street gang known as “the Bloods” that was formed in Los Angeles, California in the early 1970s. 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. TTP spread throughout Maryland mostly as a result of recruitment from inside Maryland prisons. Over time, a group of female gang members formed a subset of TTP known as the Tree Top Pirettes.

Howard was a member of the TTP Bloods and was overheard discussing gang business with Sean Fraizer and other gang members in a series of recorded telephone conversations. As part of the racketeering conspiracy, Howard distributed between 50 and 150 grams of crack cocaine and other drugs. On November 21,2007, in a recorded telephone conversation Howard called Sean Frazier from a Baltimore City Police Department transport van and told him that he had been arrested for drugs that weren’t even his. In a subsequent recorded call Frazier is overheard telling another individual that he had supplied the drugs to Howard.

Howard faces a maximum penalty of life in prison at his sentencing on September 11, 2009.

This case is the result of a long-term joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office. Twenty-five additional gang members have been charged in the racketeering conspiracy. Kevin Gary, age 27, Steve Willock, age 29, Van Sneed, age 32, and Tracey Whiting, age 24, all of Baltimore, Maryland; Shaneka Penix, age 23, of Dundalk, Maryland; and Orlando Gilyard, age 22, of Woodlawn, Maryland; and Sherry Brockington, age 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy. Gary was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Willock was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Gilyard was sentenced to 115 months in prison, Penix was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Whiting was sentenced to 21 months in prison and Brockington was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Allen Smith, 29, and Sean Frazier, 25, have also pled to the RICO conspiracy count and are awaiting sentencing. Antonio Smith, age 26, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and is awaiting sentencing The remaining defendants’ charges are pending.

Mr. Rosenstein and Ms. Jessamy gave special thanks to Secretary Gary Maynard of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the officers at the Western and North Branch Correctional Institutions for their work in the investigation and prosecution of this case.

United States Attorney Rosenstein and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Jessamy praised the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Baltimore City Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, Wicomico County State’s Attorney Office, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Narcotics Task Force, Anne Arundel County Police Department, and the Hagerstown Police Department for their investigation of this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Mr. Rosenstein and Mrs. Jessamy also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Kelly Kowitz, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris 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.



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