Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that STEPHFAN SANDERSON, also known as “Birdy” and “Beans, 25, of Covington, Georgia, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 92 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for trafficking firearms into Connecticut.
According to court documents and statements made in court, the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and Bridgeport Police have been investigating multiple Bridgeport-based gangs whose members are involved in narcotics trafficking, murder and other acts of violence. From at least 2017 until his arrest on November 12, 2020, Sanderson, who formerly resided in Bridgeport, procured at least 25 firearms in Georgia and Alabama and distributed them to individuals he had reason to know would commit felonies with those firearms, including members of the “Greene Homes Boyz” (“GHB/Hotz”) and Original North End (“O.N.E.”) street gangs in Bridgeport.
Some of the firearms Sanderson trafficked contained switches that converted the guns to fully automatic machine guns. On October 4, 2018, Undrea Kirkland, also known as “Spooda,” used one of the machine guns Sanderson supplied to fire 32 shots at rival gang members in the vicinity of the Greene Homes Housing Complex in Bridgeport. Although one of the intended targets received minor injuries, most of the shots missed and traveled into a nearby residence. A man in the kitchen of the residence was struck in the back by one of the bullets.
Another firearm that Sanderson trafficked was recovered in May 2022 and has been linked to two separate shootings and one homicide.
Sanderson has been detained since his arrest. On November 15, 2022, he pleaded guilty to one count of crossing state lines with the intent to engage in the unlicensed dealing of firearms.
Kirkland, who admitted his involvement in several gang-related shootings, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity. On April 22, 2022, he was sentenced to 210 months of imprisonment.
This investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Safe Streets and Violent Crimes Task Forces, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport State’s Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory and the Stratford and Naugatuck Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale, Jocelyn C. Kaoutzanis, Stephanie T. Levick and Karen L. Peck.
This prosecution is a part of the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), Project Longevity and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) programs.
PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Project Longevity is a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities. Through Project Longevity, community members and law enforcement directly engage with members of groups that are prone to commit violence and deliver a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it. If a group member elects to engage in gun violence, the focused attention of federal, state and local law enforcement will be directed at that entire group.
OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.