New Haven Gang Member Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that KEITH YOUNG, also known as “Capo,” “Bapo” and “Poncho,” 28, of Hamden, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 180 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for his role in a violent New Haven street gang.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2014, ATF and the New Haven Police Department began “Operation Red Side” through a series of controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures. The investigation revealed that members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims (“RSGB”), a sect of the Bloods street gang based in New Haven, were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assaults and armed robberies. YOUNG was a member and leader of the RSGB. In addition to distributing crack cocaine and other narcotics in and around New Haven, the investigation indicated that members and associates of the RSGB, under the direction of Jeffrey Benton and others, transported the drugs to Bangor, Maine, and sold them in Bangor and its surrounding communities. The RSGB also traded narcotics for firearms and used drug addicts as straw purchasers of firearms. Members then brought the firearms back to New Haven and distributed them to gang members.
YOUNG had a role in three gang-related murders in 2011. On June 24, 2011, Donnell Allick was shot and killed as he stood in his New Haven home. The investigation revealed that, on that date, Benton, YOUNG, Luis Padilla and Kavon Rogers drove in a car searching for a rival gang leader that Benton intended to murder. Instead, Benton encountered Allick, with whom Benton was angry over a drug transaction. After Benton, Padilla and YOUNG exited the car, Benton fired multiple shots through an open kitchen window, killing Allick. Benton, Padilla and YOUNG then returned the car, where Rogers had been waiting. Rogers then drove to a location where Benton hid the gun.
In September 2011, RSGB leadership ordered Robert Short, also known as “Santana,” to murder Darrick Cooper, who was a leader of a rival gang and seen as a threat. In the early morning hours of September 19, 2011, Short lured Cooper to a location in Hamden and shot Cooper in the back of the head as Cooper walked up a staircase. The investigation revealed that YOUNG had offered to help Short kill Cooper. YOUNG was with Short and Cooper shortly before Cooper’s murder and, after the murder, YOUNG drove Short to a location to dispose of the firearm used in the murder.
In December 2011, YOUNG and Trevor Murphy, also known as “Snookie,” planned a robbery of drugs and cash from Joseph Zargo, and YOUNG provided a firearm for Murphy to use. Murphy ordered a quantity of ecstasy from Zargo and, just after midnight on December 23, 2011, Murphy met Zargo on Houston Street in New Haven. After Murphy took ecstasy pills from Zargo, he pulled out a firearm. When Zargo reached into his pocket, Murphy shot Zargo once in the chest. Zargo died later that morning. After the murder, Murphy fled the scene and met up with YOUNG, who had watched the robbery and murder unfold from a nearby location.
YOUNG has been detained since his arrest on September 30, 2015. On February 13, 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, and one count of money laundering related to the transferring of drug proceeds from Maine to Connecticut through Western Union.
As a result of this investigation, 21 members and associates of the RSGB were convicted of federal charges in Connecticut and Maine. The investigation has resolved seven murder cases, four attempted murders and four armed robberies that occurred in 2011 and 2012.
Benton, Padilla, Rogers, Short and Murphy pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this investigation. On October 4, 2017, Benton and Short were sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment and 30 years of imprisonment, respectively; on October 5, 2017, Murphy was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment, and on April 9, 2018, Rogers was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. Padilla awaits sentencing.
This investigation has been conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the New Haven Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Hamden Police Department. The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office also provided critical assistance in the investigation.
An instrumental component of the investigation has been the work of the Connecticut State Crime Laboratory in utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistics evidence.
This matter is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jocelyn Kaoutzanis and Peter Markle. A related case in the District of Maine is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.