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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 15, 2018

U.S. Attorney's Office Employees, Local Investigators, Honored Today at Justice Department Ceremony

WASHINGTON – Members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and several local investigators were recognized by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director James Crowell, IV at the 34th Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C. 

A total of 162 individuals were honored at the ceremony held today in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.  The Connecticut honorees received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team for their outstanding work investigating and prosecuting the Red Side Guerilla Brims, a violent New Haven-based street gang.

In addressing the award recipients and guests, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said, “Today’s honorees earned the esteem of their colleagues.  But most importantly, they earned the gratitude of our fellow citizens – the people whose communities you made safer, whose lives you improved, and whose trust you rewarded.  Today, we pause to honor and recognize a small portion of your work.”

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.  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.

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 pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this investigation and admitted that he participated in four gang-related murders and one attempted murder.  On October 4, 2017, he was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment.

Director’s Award recipients include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter D. Markle and Jocelyn Courtney Kaoutzanis, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Spector, and Paralegal Specialist Kori Arsenault of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut; ATF special agents Daniel Prather, Michael Zeppieri, Scott Riordan, and Brian Ross; Karl R. Jacobson and Misty Fitch of the New Haven Police Department; Craig Burnett of the Connecticut Department of Correction; Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine, and the late Christopher Gardner of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“’Operation Red Side’ was an intensive investigation that dismantled a violent New Haven street gang whose members and associates were responsible for many murders, attempted murders, shootings, armed robberies and home invasions,” said U.S. Attorney John H. Durham.  “This gang trafficked crack cocaine and heroin, ruined lives from New Haven to Bangor, Maine, and used their drug trade to illegally acquire firearms.  This investigative and prosecution team solved seven homicides and put more than 20 dangerous individuals behind bars, providing justice for the victims’ families and making the New Haven community a safer place to live.  I could not be more proud of their efforts.”

EOUSA provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys’ offices around the country.  For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charged with enforcing federal criminal laws in Connecticut and representing the federal government in civil litigation.  The Office is composed of approximately 68 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 57 staff members at offices in New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.

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Updated June 15, 2018