Crips Gang Member Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder in-Aid-of Racketeering and Other Crimes
Eric Smith Conspired to Murder Rival Gang Members, Committed Robberies and Distributed Illegal Drugs
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Eric Smith, also known as “Esama” and “Esco,” a member of the Long Island-based Rollin’ 60s Crips street gang, was sentenced by United States District Judge Joanna Seybert to four consecutive terms of life in prison plus 30 years. Smith was convicted by a federal jury on June 15, 2017, following five weeks of trial, on 11 counts including murder in-aid-of racketeering, racketeering, Hobbs Act robbery and conspiracy to commit murder. These charges arose out of Smith’s participation in the Rollin’ 60s set of the Crips that for more than a decade engaged in violent criminal activity in Roosevelt, New York.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Madeline Singas, Nassau County District Attorney; and Patrick Ryder, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), announced the sentence.
“Eric Smith took a life for his gang, and now he will be serving life in prison,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The violence committed by this defendant harmed not only his murder and shooting victims, but also the larger community, which is now significantly safer as a result of the efforts by this Office and our law enforcement partners to dismantle the Rollin’ 60 Crips. We will continue to work tirelessly to prosecute violent gangs that plague Long Island communities like Roosevelt with violence, drugs and fear.” Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, in particular, the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force and the Gang Investigations Squad of the NCPD.
“Eric Smith showed no regard for the life of his victim, and he’ll now pay for his actions by spending the rest of his life in prison,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Members of the community in Roosevelt, and neighboring communities, should be able to live in a safe environment, and not fear the endless violence this gang inflicted on them. The FBI Long Island Gang Task Force has been dogged and diligent in successfully eradicating these criminals from communities that deserve better.”
“The brutal Rollin’ 60s Crips terrorized the Roosevelt community, and our neighborhoods are safer with this murderer behind bars for life,” stated Nassau County District Attorney Singas. “Law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels is united in our commitment to rid Long Island of the violent gangs that have destroyed so many lives, and we will continue our unprecedented collaboration and partnership to keep our communities safe from these predators.”
“The initial arrest and subsequent sentencing of defendant Smith is a clear sign that this type of gang activity will never be tolerated,” stated NCPD Commissioner Ryder. “The Roosevelt community is a safer place with this arrest and we will continue our efforts to keep all communities safe. I would also like to thank all of the associated agencies and their investigators on a job well done.”
At trial, the government proved that Smith was a high-ranking member of the Rollin’ 60s set of the Crips, a racketeering enterprise based in Roosevelt that engaged in murder, attempted murder, narcotics trafficking and firearms trafficking to maintain control of their turf for nearly a decade. Between 2003 and 2013, the gang followed an “on-sight” rule, created by the gang’s leader Raphael Osborne, which required members to attack members of the rival Bloods street gang in the Roosevelt community. In observance of this rule, Smith participated in over a dozen shootings. The evidence at trial also established Smith’s participation in robberies with fellow gang members to acquire cash and drugs to be resold on the streets of Roosevelt. Smith was convicted for his role in two robberies that he committed in the fall of 2010 with fellow gang members.
Smith also was convicted of the December 15, 2010 murder of 19-year-old James McClenic, a member of the rival Bloods street gang. After hours of searching for McClenic, Smith found him sitting in a parked car at a gas station in Hempstead. Smith, wearing a black ski mask and armed with a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, crept up to McClenic and opened fire at close range killing him. In the wake of McClenic’s murder, the Bloods retaliated against Smith and other members of the Crips street gang. Smith and the leader of the Rollin’ 60s dispatched younger members of the Crips to strike back, igniting a gang war on the streets of Roosevelt.
The government’s investigation has led to the arrest and conviction of more than 20 members and associates of the Rollin’ 60s Crips. During the 10 months prior to the defendants’ arrests, Roosevelt averaged more than one shooting incident every two weeks. Following the arrests of these individuals, Roosevelt, New York went 109 days without a shooting incident. To date, 13 defendants, including Smith, have been sentenced:
- on June 21, 2016, Jahmani Hamilton was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment
- on August 4, 2016, Kurtis Philip was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment
- on August 5, 2016, Courtney Smith was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment
- on September 23, 2016, Merlyn Benitez was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment
- on October 13, 2016, Derick Hernandez was sentenced to a term of 20 years’ imprisonment that will run consecutively to a four-year state sentence he is presently serving
- on October 19, 2016, Kwame Lake was sentenced to a term of five years’ imprisonment that will run consecutively to an eight-year state sentence he is presently serving
- on November 4, 2016, Tyshawn Gitto was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment
- on January 13, 2017, Branden Short was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment
- on January 13, 2017, the gang’s leader Raphael Osborne was convicted after trial and sentenced to three life sentences plus 135 years
- on April 21, 2017, Rommel Lobban was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment
- on April 25, 2017, Daquanne Nunn was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment
- on January 12, 2018, Rudy Montour was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment that will run consecutively to a 13-year state sentence he is presently serving.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Boeckmann, Christopher Caffarone and Michael Maffei are in charge of the prosecution.
ERIC SMITH (also known as “Esama” and “Esco”)
Roosevelt, Long Island
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 14-CR-264 (JS), 15-CR428 (JS)